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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
ON THE OCCASION
THE COMMISSION'S SWEARING IN
AND WELCOME OF
DEPUTY PRESIDENT IVES
DEPUTY PRESIDENT HAMILTON
AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION
MONDAY, 29 OCTOBER 2001
JUSTICE GIUDICE, PRESIDENT
VICE PRESIDENT ROSS
VICE PRESIDENT McINTYRE
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT POLITES
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT WATSON
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT HARRISON
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT WILLIAMS
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT ACTON
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT DRAKE
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT LACY
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT KAUFMAN
DEPUTY PRESIDENT IVES
DEPUTY PRESIDENT HAMILTON
MR J. LLOYD FOR MINISTER ABBOTT
MR B. NOAKES FOR ACCI
MR R. MARLES FOR ACTU
* * *
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Deputy President Ives.
DEPUTY PRESIDENT IVES: I have the honour to announce that I have received a Commission from His Excellency, the Governor-General, appointing me to be a Deputy President of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. I present the Commission.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Mr Registrar, I direct the Commission be recorded. Deputy President Hamilton.
DEPUTY PRESIDENT HAMILTON: I have the honour to announce that I have received a Commission from His Excellency, the Governor-General, appointing me to be a Deputy President of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. I present the Commission.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Mr Registrar, I direct the Commission be recorded. Mr Lloyd.
MR J. LLOYD: Thank you, your Honour, and members of the Commission. It is my pleasure on behalf of the Commonwealth and the Minister, Tony Abbott, to welcome these two new members to the Commission. The Commission plays an important role in the conduct of workplace relations in Australia. Australian workplaces have seen massive change in work practices and organisation in recent years. The Commission has helped this change through its oversight of the workplace reform and bargaining agendas. It has moved from the arbitral role to increasingly one of adding value to the arrangements employers and employees are prepared to engage in.
The Commission has, through this process, demonstrated considerable flexibility itself. This experience engenders confidence that it will continue to play a valuable role in Australia's economic and workplace relations future. These two appointments today and other recent appointments confirm the commitment of the Government to the continuing role of the Commission in the workplace relations system and to its proper resourcing. The new members represent a continuing renewal of the institution that plays such an important role.
Turning now to the members we are welcoming today, Mr Ives, Deputy President, you have come to the Deputy President position from the position of General Manager, Human Resources, of one of Australia's leading mining companies, Western Mining Corporation Resources. Obviously this is a position of considerable responsibility and influence. Your career has spanned many years in senior management, in workplace relations, and human resources. Much of this has been in the important mining industry, although you have worked in other sectors. For example, you spent three years as Employee Relations Manager with Pratt Industries in the paper and cardboard field.
There are two striking features to your career. Firstly, you have come up through the ranks. You started out as an apprentice fitter and turner and toolmaker. The second feature is that you appear to have worked in almost every State and Territory of the Commonwealth. I believe this varied background and your extensive senior experience in the vital mining industry will serve you well in your new appointment.
Mr Hamilton, Deputy President, you have come to the Commission from the ACCI where you occupied the position of Manager, Labour Relations. Your workplace relations career has meant that you are one of the most widely known employer representatives in the country. At the ACCI where you have worked since 1984 you have presented numerous employer cases to the AIRC in regard to many claims of national importance. I refer to various national wage cases and test case hearings in areas like family and personal carers' leave, superannuation, junior rates, and there are others.
Of course, behind this public aspect of your work has been an enormous workload in preparing cases, briefing constituent employer groups of the ACCI, appearances before Parliamentary committees, and representing the ACCI on various national committees and bodies. It cannot be said that you have been shy of work. I have often been amazed personally at the work demands you encounter, and have respect for the professional manner in which you have carried this out. I have known you for many years; in fact, as a young person you worked with me in the department in the mid-1970s. While I cannot claim credit for your elevation to your current position, I did recognise your potential and commitment. The fact that you have had a successful career does not surprise me.
So, in conclusion, on behalf of the Commonwealth and Tony Abbott, the Minister, I wish both of you well in your new appointments.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Mr Noakes.
MR B. NOAKES: If the Commission pleases. It is a great pleasure to take part in this welcome today to Deputy President Hamilton and Deputy President Ives. Indeed, on behalf of private employers generally I welcome both of their appointments and wish them both well for the future.
Deputy President Hamilton shares with another new appointment, Deputy President McCarthy, who also takes up his appointment today, the distinction of being the first Deputy President appointed directly from an employer association. As such, they both bear a particular burden of demonstrating the wisdom of their appointments, and we are confident that they are both more than equal to that task.
Deputy President Hamilton, you are exceptionally well known to us, having served the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for some 17 years prior to your appointment most recently, as has been said, as Manager, Labour Relations. The work you have carried out has been extremely varied, ranging from extensive advocacy before the Commission, a matter to which I will return, to undertaking consultations and negotiations with all political parties and relevant statutory bodies, to the development of employer positions on many issues.
So far as the Commission itself is concerned, you have acted as the principal advocate for private employers in many important proceedings for the last ten years. This has involved appearances in national wage and safety net review cases, as well as virtually every other important case over that period; and Mr Lloyd mentioned some of them. As a regular client of the Commission and, on occasion, despite the submissions which you have been required to put on instructions, you have I believe retained the respect of all those who appeared in such proceedings, as well as of the Commission itself.
You have over the years become an expert in the Workplace Relations Act and its antecedents. Until your appointment, you were a member of a working party charged with the task of rendering the Act into plain English. This is the task which many have compared to the task of rolling a very large stone up a very steep hill. But since you have not completed your task, you now have to live with the consequences.
You have a well deserved reputation for integrity and fairness. You have maintained the common touch, even to the extent of riding a bicycle to and from the city each day. I am not sure whether this practice will continue or, if it does, whether you will trade up to a new model. But I warn the Commission that there are few more frightening sites than the site of the Deputy President in full bike gear with helmet and balaclava; it is enough to strike terror into the hearts of any who appear before him.
Deputy President Ives, you are also well known to employers, particularly in the mining industry. After training as a fitter and turner and toolmaker, as has been mentioned, you became an engineering trades teacher with TAFE. You then entered the mining industry with Nabalco and, from there, joined Curragh Queensland Mining Limited where you became Manager of Human Resources, and you fulfilled a similar role with Pratt Industries, as has been mentioned, and Stork Wescon Australia. In 1996 you joined Western Mining Corporation and eventually became General Manager, Human Resources.
You come to the Commission with a wealth of private sector experience in roles which have prepared you well for the tasks which you will now undertake, and you bring with you a reputation for forthrightness together with practicality and fair-mindedness. You have also been an active participant in the employer organisation for the mining industry, the Australian Mines and Metals Association. You have been a key member of that association's board reference group and you have made a major contribution to the development and promotion of its general policies.
As I have said, if the Commission pleases, we welcome both appointments and we have every confidence in the ability of both new Deputy Presidents to carry out their duties in the manner expected from them. We wish them both every success in their endeavours.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Mr Marles.
MR R. MARLES: Thank you, your Honours, and Commissioners. Today is a great day because we welcome two worthy people to one of the most significant institutions in Australia. Our country was formed in the immediate aftermath of the worst period of industrial disputation that this continent has ever seen. But that disputation motivated in the founders of our country a most remarkable idea. Because, like America, they understood that class systems and the class warfare of the old world had no place in the new world, but unlike America they acknowledged the differing roles and the differing interests of both capital and labour in a market economy.
And, I guess in an attempt to try and prevent that kind of disputation from ever occurring again, they built a system which provided for a consensus between capital and labour. A consensus which allowed both capital and labour to understand when their interests were mutual, a consensus which provided for both capital and labour a process which their interests could be resolved when they differed. And at the heart of that architecture was this place. And no matter what the differing powers and obligations, the roles and responsibilities of the conciliation and arbitration court, the Australian Industrial Relation Commission over the last hundred years, no matter what they have been, if this place has been one thing, it has been the custodian of the consensus between labour and capital.
That is something which is as true today as it has ever been. Overseeing agreements, maintaining minimum standards of employment, resolving industrial disputes. So clearly the Commission and the consensus between labour and capital is critical to the industrial relations system. But it goes further than that. Because for me it underpins the culture of the people that we are. A culture which is egalitarian, a culture which is fair, a culture which is compassionate. We work together at work, but we work together as a people. And we see it in every aspect of our history and in every aspect of our daily lives.
The recent series on the ABC has reminded us that it was Australians working together in the terrible conditions which prevailed in the prisoner of war camps at Changi which saw that Australians had the highest rate of survival of any nation in the Japanese prisoner of war camps. We see it in our everyday lives, in particular in the way so many of us enjoy our sports. So that you can be a dockhand loading trucks at 5 o'clock in the morning out at Linfox, or you can be Lindsay Fox, and you will both have a very firm view about what it means that Brisbane has just won the flag, and you will probably just be starting to pick out which horse you are about to place a bet on, on the first Tuesday in November.
And we see it in the wonderful achievement which was the Olympic Games, and in particular the opening ceremony which obviously highlighted the really extraordinary things about our country and our indigenous people, and our incredible sea fauna. But in that scene where men and women were wearing their work clothes and their work boots, and were using the angle grinders which sent sparks into the night sky, we also saw a scene which highlighted that ordinary Australian working people were extraordinary too.
But for me it all begins and ends in this place. Where representatives of both employers and employees, often simply just employers and employees, stand before you completely equal, with complete faith in the process that they are about to be engaged in, and complete faith that whilst what comes from the Bench may not always be desirable, it will always be fair. Because I believe that this forum is egalitarian, that this forum is compassionate, that this forum is utterly fair.
Deputy President Ives, you bring to this place enormous practical experience representing employers in the field, in some of Australia's most important companies; Western Mining Corporation, Pratt Industries, just to mention a couple. It is the kind of experience which for both employers and unions is so necessary to the functioning of this place.
And Deputy President Hamilton, I think you probably know the Commission just about as well as anybody. And while the content of the submissions which you have put on behalf of the ACCI to the Commission over the years have almost habitually been opposed by representatives from the ACTU, the manner, the power, the integrity, the intelligence of those submissions, have always been enormously respected.
Both of you will make a great contribution to the Commission, and on behalf of the Australian Union Movement I welcome you both to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, the Commission which is so important to our industrial relations system, but which is so special to our culture and the way in which our culture underpins who we are as a people. A culture which acknowledges diversity but embraces it. A culture which is freer than Europe's but fairer than America's.
So if anyone were ever to try and undermine that culture and to undermine the pillars which underpin it, they would not only be changing who we are as a people so much for the worst, but they would also be removing from the world our unique contribution to humanity. Deputy President Ives and Deputy President Hamilton, we wish you all the very best of luck.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Deputy President Ives.
DEPUTY PRESIDENT IVES: Thank you, Mr President, Members of the Commission. Mr Lloyd, Mr Noakes, Mr Marles, thanks for the kind words. I have become used to kind words over the last month, it is a habit I do not want to form because I am not sure that it will continue. Aside from the great honour of sitting here today, it is a somewhat odd experience in my professional capacity to be here. Because this has been a place in that capacity that I have attempted to avoid over the years. Because in representing the interests of particular employers I have also been an employee of those employers and I have always felt that if we could solve our problems at home that was probably the best place to have them solved.
However, I have not always been successful in that, and I have at various times found myself at possibly that very Bar table attempting to be persuasive, and again, not always successfully. I have always been impressed by the institution, greatly impressed by the institution, and there are some words that I think have survived the various incarnations of the Acts over the years which have stuck with me, and I cannot recall where I first became aware of them, but the words are, "equity, good conscience and on the substantial merits of the case." They may be slightly paraphrased but they have been important words, not only in the context of this institution but also in the context of doing my job generally.
Often controversy surrounds appointments to this place, this particular group of appointments, no less than any others. I was, I think, fortunate because the relative obscurity of my background seemed to sort of leave me out of that, which was good. But it seems that that controversy dissipates fairly quickly once members take their place in this Commission, and I think it might be largely due to those words. Because when you are faced with particular disputes, particular circumstances, it is really what you are left with; equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case.
Whilst I recognise the significant historical credentials of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, the venerability of the institution, I think its importance to me is far more on a practical level. It is the disputes that are resolved. It is the unfairnesses that are reversed. It is the disruption to people's lives that are avoided. I hope to make a contribution in all of those areas.
I have many people to thank, far too many to do that in an individual way. So I will have to confine myself to collective acknowledgment. Firstly to people with whom I have worked over a large number of years, as was pointed out in a large number of organisations, and also in a large number of states, for all of the experiences that they have given me which have ultimately resulted in me being able to take up an appointment such as this one.
Particularly to people in my recent experience at work, for the experience that they have given me, and also - and they will know who I am talking about, for the friendship that they have given. To my extended family, my mother and father who are up in Sydney and who are, today, extremely proud. To my sisters of whom there are three, dispersed fairly widely. To my children, none of whom by the way are children anymore; one of them is in fact pretending to be a cameraman here at the moment. The others are also unfortunately dispersed and unable to be here today. They are variously in either New South Wales or Queensland, but I know they are actually with me in spirit.
Finally to my wife, Sue, who is here today and who continues always to encourage and support me. Thank you. I know this position will test me, and it will probably test me quite severely at times. I actually look forward to that. And I look forward to the opportunity to equip myself appropriately in the face of those tests. Thank you, Mr President.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Deputy President Hamilton.
DEPUTY PRESIDENT HAMILTON: Thank you, your Honour. I would like to thank Mr Lloyd and Mr Noakes and Mr Marles for their kind remarks. I would also like to thank my colleagues on this Commission, from the Trade Union movement and from Employer Associations and employers who have contacted me to express their congratulations. I am honoured to be the first Deputy President appointed directly from an Employer Association.
When I joined the CAI, as it then was, in 1984 as a young man I did not know the sorts of issues I would be dealing with, nor the people. Eventually after some years I was entrusted on a sort of trial and error basis with what have traditionally been the key representation roles from my organisation. In 1992/93 I started work as the CAI and then the ACCI advocate in Commission test cases on claims for new wages and conditions, and other matters.
I had learnt from some observation that in those cases you had to be across the subject, and I quickly found that this was easier to say than to achieve. I also found that I would not be allowed by this Commission to ignore practical realities or inconvenient arguments that I had somehow inadvertently overlooked.
Prepared as well as I could be, I was nearly always treated by this Tribunal and by my colleagues and employer, union, and Government ranks, with courtesy and consideration. But also with considerable analytical scrutiny and, of course, I should have been. I was privileged to be an observer or participant in proceedings in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Industrial Relations Commission under seven Governments, five Federal Ministers for Industrial Relations, Four Commission Presidents, three Presidents of the ACTU, three differently named Acts, two differently named Commissions, two ACTU Secretaries and one Executive Director of ACCI. This was a small part of a long history of arbitration in this country but it was also an eventful and active period and I was kept very active.
During those cases, the parties at times flatly disagreed, sort of agreed about some things while disagreeing about other matters and on occasions even developed wide ranging areas of agreement. One of my last cases was the parental leave for long term casuals case where, with some difficulty, we did develop complete agreement between trade unions and employer associations on the introduction of a new entitlement or extension of an entitlement, the first such full agreement in a major test case since the supported wage clause of 1994. We also completely overhauled the national training wage award by agreement and by cooperation.
For 17 years, beginning in 1984, I took part in various reviews of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act (1904), a name that lasted over 80 years, perhaps because it reflected the actual functions of this Tribunal; the more short lived Industrial Relations Act (1988) and more recently the Workplace Relations Act (1996). I also worked closely with the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency on ways of promoting equal opportunity and employment, often working jointly with trade unions and government.
For the last two years I was privileged to be involved in an ongoing process in this Commission of reform of award training provisions, a process started and guided by joint employer and trade union action under the auspices of this Commission and I did make a small contribution to ACCI's role in relation to the International Labour Organisation through membership of the relevant NLCC committee in other matters.
I have watched as members of this Commission and others developed solutions to difficult problems and at times I made some contributions to some of those solutions. I have always respected the contribution that the various parties sought to make and I think I have learned something from all of them. I would like today to express particular thanks to my wife, Elizabeth and my small son, Robbie, both of whom are here today. None of this would have been possible without my wife's love and support. My son, Robbie, has given me both many sleepless nights and a better perspective on life and an interest in dinosaurs that I had lost some thirty years before. Thank you very much.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: I adjourn the Commission.
ADJOURNED INDEFINITELY [10.28am]