House debates

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014; Second Reading

9:28 am

Photo of Sarah HendersonSarah Henderson (Corangamite, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

And this is about implementing the measures by those opposite that they are now sitting there bleating about, because they are not consistent in their own principles. This bill will restore the arrangements which were previously in place, where union officials must comply with a reasonable request by the employer to hold discussions in a specific room.

Our policy includes a provision to create realistic time frames for new agreements or greenfields agreements. We want to ensure that enterprise agreement projects can be negotiated quickly to ensure infrastructure projects are not unnecessarily delayed. This has been a very big issue, one that the Fair Work Act review found was an absolutely destructive problem in terms of productivity and jobs growth. It is one where the former government's Fair Work Act review found—and I will quote from the review:

… the existing provisions effectively confer on a union (or unions) with coverage of a majority of prospective workers a significant capacity to frustrate the making of an appropriate greenfields agreement at all or at least in a timely way. Unions in this position are able to withhold agreement and effectively prevent the determination of terms and conditions in advance of a project commencing. In light of the evidence we were presented about the need for certainty over the labour costs associated with major projects, we are concerned—

And, as I said, I am quoting the Fair Work Act review—

at the risk of delays in greenfields agreement making that this entails.

In fact, the review found that these practices, where unions effectively operated to stall major infrastructure projects, potentially threatened future investment in major projects in Australia. It is extraordinary, once again, in light of the finding of the former government's review—of those opposite; of your review—that they are now sitting on their hands and again making a massive U-turn on an important principle.

This bill is important for jobs. This bill will provide confidence to employers and to investors. This bill is incredibly important for Australia's productivity and I commend the bill to the House.


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