12 February 2013: KAP Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has introduced laws into Parliament to promote fair work negotiation before industrial action.

Mr Katters Fair Work Amendment (Arbitration) Bill 2013 amends the Fair Work Act to remove the restrictions preventing Fair Work Australia from dealing with disputes by arbitration, so that FWA can deal with disputes through arbitration, mediation or conciliation, or by making a recommendation or expressing an opinion.

The ALP made very big of reintroducing the arbitration commission, and God bless them for it. But as a person who has, over the years, become someone of a very cynical persuasion, as I said at the time: ‘You won’t be getting your arbitration rights back’, Mr Katter told the House of Representatives yesterday.

So the arbitration commission was restored, called Fair Work Australia, a jazzy name.
But there was a little catch 22 yes, you can go to the arbitration commission to get an increase in your pay or change in your conditions, but to get that change you have to go on strike.

The definition is a ‘serious economic loss’, which amounts to a strike or a lockout. Lockouts are pretty rare, but when they do occur, they become extremely dislocative for the people of Australia.

Immense hardship is placed on the people of Australia if people are forced to go out on strike to be able to get access to the arbitration commission.

We should not have in this country a requirement that to get into the arbitration commission you have to dislocate people’s lives and disrupt and damage the economy.

Without collective bargaining we will be back where we were a hundred years ago.

I can give you case after case after case of increasingly dangerous operations in industry, mining and everywhere else. But people are desperately trying to make ends meet. I do not blame the mining companies or the industrialists or any of the other employers who are desperately trying to make ends meet. What happens in that situation is we get cut back.

Overlayed on top of this, the government are flying in foreign workers as well, which is undermining our pay and conditions. This legislation today gives you access to the arbitration commission through conciliation without have to go to strike.

The point I am making here is this: if you live in the real world, you know that if you do not have an arbitration commission and you do not have a trade union mechanism for collective bargaining, then you will work for nothing in this country.