Thursday 24 November 2005

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I suppose some may say we are wasting our time with this bill because it may be overridden by the Commonwealth. That might or might not prove to be the case; however, it can be argued that the State of Tasmania has a right to set its own industrial laws and an obligation to protect its workers and to maintain family standards. Surely a democratically elected Tasmanian government knows best how to maintain a fair system for employers and employees.

This debate is not a waste of time. The minister has said that it is widely acknowledged that Tasmania has the best industrial relations system in the country, with employers and employees able to go to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission when an umpire is needed. I agree. I do not really want to debate the merits or otherwise of the Federal Government's industrial relations proposals, save to note that they do not seem to be very popular.

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - That is a good observation.

Ms Thorp - You should have seen him at the rally.

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - I heard he was at the rally with a bang.

Mr FINCH - I was hiding. I was merely there as an observer. Let us look at what is proposed here. One of the intentions of the bill is to incorporate the small number of basic minimum working conditions into the Industrial Relations Act. These would provide a safety net for Tasmanian workers covered in the State system, whether they are covered by awards, agreements or whether they are award free. Employees and employers will know that conditions such as annual leave, sick leave, ordinary working hours, the right to a meal break, parental leave, redundancy notice and severance pay are protected. So I cannot argue with that, Mr President. Tasmanian employees deserve a fair deal and this bill has my support. It is to be hoped that it will be able to protect Tasmanian workers.