Reith introduces four new bills

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Reith introduces four new bills

The Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, Mr. Peter Reith, has foreshadowed the introduction into federal Parliament of four workplace relations Bills this week.

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The Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, Mr. Peter Reith, has foreshadowed the introduction into federal Parliament of four workplace relations Bills this week. The Bills will canvass four pillars of the Coalition's 1998 policy mandate. They are: 

  • secret ballots for protected action

 

  • measures to discourage vexatious claims in the unfair dismissal jurisdiction

  • simplified procedures for the making of Australian Workplace Agreements

  • the deletion of tallies and union picnic days from the list of allowable award matters

According to the Minister, the introduction of the Bills in a piecemeal manner, is designed to accommodate the concerns of the Australian Democrats, who requested that 1999 More Jobs Better Pay Bill be pursued in single issue legislation. 

The first of the four Bills, the Workplace Relations Amendment (Secret Ballots for Protected Action) Bill 2000 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 26 June 2000. Essentially, the Bill requires that a secret ballot of affected employees be conducted, before the right to strike can be lawfully exercised. If a union makes the application for a ballot, then the Bill provides that only union members would be entitled to vote in the ballot. The federal Commission would oversee the ballot. 

Response of the Democrats
 
In a media release, Senator Meg Lees was emphatic in claiming that the Australian Democrats would not support re-packaging, into a separate bill, the failed Second Wave legislation plan to impose harsh secret-ballot requirements on unions. According to the Democrats Leader the Government's legislation is not about industrial democracy, rather, 

...it is about making it procedurally very difficult for a union to take industrial action, as they would need to work their way through complex notice and balloting procedures.

 

 
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