The Hon. M. J. GALLACHER: My question without notice is to the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations. Will the Attorney advise the House why his Government is refusing to provide its share of the Employee Entitlements Support Scheme for the Scone Fresh Meats workers? Why are those workers not entitled to receive an average 80 per cent of the entitlements that they were owed at the time of their termination? What does the Attorney have against the people of Scone?
The Hon. J. W. SHAW: For almost two years I have been putting forward respective solutions to the problem of employee entitlements when companies go into insolvency. I have urged for reform of the corporations law and for consideration of a trust or contributory fund into which employers would make payments. However, those suggestions have not been acted upon by the Federal Government. The Federal Government has put forward a proposal for employee contributions which I think is fundamentally flawed. First, it is capped at $20,000 and within that cap there are restrictions which mean that workers do not get anything near their true legal entitlements. The starkest example is redundancy pay. Long-serving workers are entitled to years of payments but redundancy pay is capped at four weeks.
The proposed scheme is flawed but is said to be one that taxpayers should put money into. And, by the way, there is no long-term plan. For years the State Government has been urging Mr Reith to come up with a long-term permanent solution to this problem. It is entirely defensible for State governments, Labor and Liberal, to say that, given his scheme is flawed—it does not give workers anything like their true legal entitlement—and given that this is a temporary measure without a long-term solution, they will not participate in it. It is not a satisfactory solution to the problem. I urge my colleague to speak to his colleagues in Western Australia and South Australia, because I think they will say the same thing that I am saying.