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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
ON THE OCCASION
THE COMMISSION'S SWEARING IN
AND WELCOME OF
AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION
WEDNESDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2001
JUSTICE GIUDICE, PRESIDENT
VICE PRESIDENT McINTYRE
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT HARRISON
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT DRAKE
SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT DUNCAN
DEPUTY INDUSTRIAL REGISTRAR BUCHANAN
MR J. LLOYD FOR MINISTER ABBOTT
MR G. BRACK FOR ACCI
MR D. LILLY FOR CPSU
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JUSTICE GIUDICE: Commissioner Roberts.
COMMISSIONER ROBERTS: President, I have the honour to announce that I have received a commission from his Excellency the Governor-General appointing me to be a Commissioner of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. I present the commission.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Deputy Industrial Registrar, I direct that the commission be recorded. Mr Lloyd.
MR LLOYD: Thank you, your Honour. It is my pleasure on behalf of the Commonwealth to welcome you, Commissioner, in your new appointment. You have come to the Commission from Carneys Lawyers where you have worked as an industrial relations consultant and migration agent. However, the most substantial part of your career has been in the trade union movement; you have held a variety of positions in that movement.
You have worked with the Professional Radio and Electronics Institute of Australasia for 19 years and rose to the position of General Secretary/Treasurer. The key task at the end of that tenure was to guide the Association to a successful amalgamation with the Community and Public Sector Union. You then held senior national executive and national council positions in the new enlarged union. Throughout this time you also have held positions on the Labor Council of New South Wales and various international union federations.
A very noteworthy feature of your career has been your involvement in a long-term aid project sponsored by the CPSU with the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour. I understand that since leaving the CPSU in 1996 you have continued to work with the project on a contract basis. Your work in this endeavour has been recognised by honours bestowed on you by the Vietnam Government and that country's Confederation of Labour.
All public organisations face increasing scrutiny from people they serve. The Commission, because of its important role, is not immune from that feature of our modern economy. The Commission often has to operate under challenging circumstances where the parties are in conflict and where issues of economic well-being are traversed and effected. This places a premium on the skills of Commission members to achieve outcomes that gain the respect of the parties and that they are treated fairly. It is my experience that the Commission meets this community expectation to a very high level in satisfaction. Your experience and background will serve you well, Commissioner, in your new career as a member of this very important institution.
In conclusion, on behalf of the Commonwealth and the Minister, Tony Abbott, I wish you well in your new career.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Mr Brack.
MR BRACK: Thank you indeed. If the Commission pleases. Mr Commissioner, on behalf of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Australia's employers, I congratulate you on your appointment and welcome you to the Commission.
It is plain that your appointment here vastly exceeds the requirements of the Act but it should be recorded on this day of days that those who know you, and are justifiably prejudiced on your behalf, comment most frequently on your skill as an expert negotiator and linguist - perhaps they didn't put it quite that way - and on how widely you are read, r-e-a-d, I suspect, not r-e-d, and on your witty but often well-disguised sense of humour that rests somewhere between exceptional dry wit and sarcasm, the great strength and well-aimed pithy comments - no lisp intended.
There is evidence in your background of your independence of thought and of the things that make you different. Your trade union background has given you useful experience. You know the real world of industrial relations and that will help you sift what is useful, reasonable and balanced from the bovine matter that will inevitably waft past your eyes - but, sadly, un-pasteurised.
As with most linguists, there is the essential love of words and their manipulation. Rudyard Kipling possessed those skills and, quoting him, as I am told you are fond of doing, seems to reflect your passion for language and ideas. Not just any language and any ideas but language and ideas that are partly expressed, packed with meanings that are also, importantly, entertaining.
Your union colleagues attest to your negotiating strength and the adroitness of your humour and its timing in diffusing tense situations and making ground - I'm not so sure the employers, on the other side, saw the same funny side of all this. You've also been described as eccentric and "an awkward fist". Of course, being well-read, linguistically adept and quoting Kipling, no wonder you are seen to stand apart. Perhaps you were cast more in the mould of the American union negotiator.
Then there is your celebrated engagement with Judith Kerin. I'm sure you'll be looking to Christmas well-wishers from a different perspective as you've now jumped the fence - or will jump the bench.
The fact that you are different has been recognised by others too. During one protracted negotiation, as I am told, of the TV Award some years ago you and some union colleagues had to break for a meeting with Kerry Packer. As you entered his office he greeted you with the kind of directness and verbal economy for which he is noted, and I quote a reliable source, or at least I'm told that the source is reliable. Packer said:
I've heard of you. You're the one that looks like one of us but you're one of them. Sit down.
Well, looks are a reflection of other aspects of personality and there is nothing wrong if the professional disposition permeates all facets of your being.
I'm also told that your expansive reading makes you a very desirable partner for trivia nights. Luckily for you, a lot of the submissions made in this building will add enormously to your store of trivia.
While you have experience in industrial relations you have other passions too including, as already commented upon, the lasting fascination with Asia and Vietnam in particular, something else that makes you different from most others in this field. Besides your trade union experience the breadth of your industrial relations involvement has been expanded through your work at Carneys over the last four or five years.
So in conclusion, and with apologies to Kipling but having regard to the experience that awaits you here and the principles we, on the employers' side, believe should guide you, let me do some violence to Kipling's poem, "If" - and some of these words, of course, will be well-known to others, but some of the stanzas won't:
If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when the parties doubt you but make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can walk with crowds and keep your virtue or walk with kings nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all sides count with you but none too much;
If you hear union and employer yet pay no duty to the part;
If you see the failings on all sides yet not fail to be fair and just;
If what's put before you in submissions is fit for compost not a feast yet you turn it to advantage swapping rancour for lasting peace;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the earth and everything that's in it;
And, which is more, you'll be a great member of this Commission, my son.
I welcome you again. All the very best.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Thank you. Yes, Mr Lilly.
MR LILLY: Thank you, your Honour. We would also like to welcome and congratulate Michael on his appointment to the Commission on behalf of his union, the CPSU, of which he is a life member, and joins another life member of the CPSU as a member of the Commission, Justice Munro.
Michael's background has been outlined to you in some of the other speeches but he was the General Secretary of the Professional Radio and Electronics Institute of Australasia for 11 years which amalgamated with the CPSU in 1992 and when we looked the PREIA's eligibility rule at the time of amalgamation our eyes lit up when we saw it had coverage of some people in Papua New Guinea, we thought this was an area where we might be able to expand our membership into. The amalgamation occurred in 1992 and was one of the earlier amalgamations that the then newly-formed CPSU embarked upon. Michael played a senior role in the union after those amalgamations through to 1996, when he retired from being a full-time official.
Michael has a strong industrial background, primarily in the broadcasting and aviation industries, and anybody who came to us being predominantly public sector union up to that point with credentials of crossing swords with Kerry Packer obviously had something that we were interested in in expanding our skill base.
Since his retirement as a full-time official Michael has managed the CPSU's development project with the Vietnam trade union movement and this project is seen as a model in providing training and administrative support for a union movement coming to grips with operating in a fledgling market economy.
I first met Michael in the early 90s during those amalgamation negotiations and many at the time commented about the PSU and the PREIA being unlikely bedfellows. However, Michael was not driven by the politics of the union movement, he was driven by what he saw as the best interests of his members. Due to the efforts of Michael that amalgamation was one of the smoothest and it has resulted in the most integrated of all the amalgamations we have undertaken. Today much of the policy of change in the CPSU has been driven by the former PREIA section of the union and Michael deserves the credit for laying that foundation.
On a personal note, in 1999 my partner Clare and I travelled to Vietnam with Michael to review the running of that project. Shortly before leaving we learned that my partner was pregnant and debated whether we should still proceed. Although we had not spread the news beyond close family we confided in Michael to see what he thought of the risks. The care and diplomacy exercised by Michael in safely guiding Clare through that trip cemented my friendship and appreciation of Michael; he is a very caring and decent human being. On returning to Australia and learning that Clare was in fact having twins, we were doubly appreciative of his support.
The personal values and strong sense of social justice that Michael will bring to the Commission in his work will no doubt be appreciated by working people. Under this government's Workplace Relations Act, many ordinary people have to rely on the Commission for justice. It is unfortunate also that this government does not strike a better balance in its appointments to the Commission. More appointments from the union movements are clearly warranted. Michael's appointment is a step in addressing this issue of balance.
The CPSU highly regards Michael and we wish him well in his new role. Congratulations once again.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Commissioner Roberts.
COMMISSIONER ROBERTS: Thank you. President, fellow members of the Commission, my family, friends and former colleagues, firstly I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Mr Lloyd, Mr Brack and my old friend Doug Lilly for their kind words this morning.
I first appeared in the former Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in April of 1973 when I was 21 years old and straight out of university. I had only been working for the Professional Radio Employees Institute for some 48 hours when I had to appear before his Honour Mr Justice Ludeke who at that time had charge of the maritime industry. It was, let me say, a sobering and formative experience.
Over the ensuing 23 years of union work with the PREIA and then the Community and Public Sector Union, I had the pleasure of appearing before many members of this Commission who almost without fail inspired in me a sense that here was a body which had a central legal, industrial, economic and social role to play in the life of the nation. This body, which first arose as part of a new province for law and order, has shown itself to also have evolved into a new province for social and economic justice which has played a key role in maintaining the social cohesiveness of Australia.
The members of the Commission who inspired me are legion and too numerous to list but I wish to pay special tribute to his Honour Justice James Robinson of blessed memory before whom I appeared over many years in the television industry matters. Justice Robinson remains in my memory as an exemplar of kindness, wisdom and fair play.
Since leaving the CPSU in 1996 I have worked with Carneys Lawyers in Sydney as a consultant on a wide range of business and industrial matters and also, as Mr Lilly noted, as a consultant with the CPSU. In that latter role I have had the Honour of running the union's continuing aid project in Vietnam which aims at building a strong and effective trade union movement in that country which can play a central role in nation building and also as a defender of the legitimate rights of working people. No work that I have done in my career has given me as much satisfaction as my work in Vietnam and I wish to acknowledge the support for the Vietnamese trade union movement from CPSU national secretary, Wendy Caird, who is overseas this week and unable to attend.
I would like to record my thanks to all those who have assisted me in my career, in particular my family for their unstinting support, including that of my mother who has encouraged me at every stage of my life. My great regret is that father did not live to see this day. My thanks also go to my many colleagues in the trade union movement, my friends at Carneys and to two individuals who are present here today without whom none of this would have been possible. They are too modest to be named but they will know who they are.
I must also mention the great support given to me by Registrar Peter Richards since my appointment was announced and by Deputy Registrar Margaret Buchanan and her colleagues in the Sydney Registry and my new Commission colleagues. They have made me feel welcome and have gone out of their way to assist me in every way possible.
In closing, I would like to say that the oath I took about an hour ago weighs heavily upon me and I pledge myself to act with total impartiality towards all those who will appear before me. I give thanks to God for the many blessings he has bestowed on me and I invoke his blessing on my work and that of my colleagues. Thank you.
JUSTICE GIUDICE: Thank you all. I adjourn the Commission.
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