Arbitration concludes but decision some way off13-11-2009
Judge Helen Parsons has stated that a quick decision is unlikely due to the comprehensive nature of the arbitration.
The AEU put forward a compelling case. We included over 100 witness statements‚ many of which were accepted without undergoing the scrutiny of cross-examination by Government legal counsel. The quality of the AEU's legal representation is evidenced by the announcement on 23 October that AEU Senior Legal Counsel‚ Mordy Bromberg‚ will be appointed as a Federal Court Judge.
The question most often asked at the moment is When can we expect a decision?. It is best answered by the following extract from the transcript on the final day of hearings.
Judge Helen Parsons‚ in summing up‚ said:
... we appreciate that the parties are all anxious for an early decision but at this stage we're not able to say when we'd be able to hand it down. In that context‚ we were a little concerned when we read in the Advertiser some weeks ago that‚ A formal decision is expected by the end of the year. We don't know whose expectation that was‚ but it certainly isn't something which the commission said at any stage. That might have been a realistic expectation if we'd started in May and finished in August‚ but as it was‚ we started in August and we're finishing now.
It was an understandable delay because this matter has been very complex‚ extensive materials being necessary in order to support and oppose the various applications‚ but what that means is we're left today‚ on 30 October‚ having completed a hearing of about 40 sitting days. 30 witnesses have been cross-examined‚ there have been lengthy submissions made‚ we've got 318 exhibits‚ 134 of which are witness statements and we've got over 2400 pages of transcript. So I think the expectation of the commission is that a decision before the end of this year is unlikely.
I make that clear because I think it would be unfortunate if employees affected by the decision have the false expectation of an early result and it's also unfortunate if those false expectations result in unfounded criticism of the commission. So with those words‚ thank you very much. And finally‚ on behalf of the commission‚ I'd like to congratulate you‚ Mr Bromberg‚ on your appointment to the Federal Court.
The AEU understands that the retirement plans of many members are based on the outcome of this long and costly process. The AEU thanks members for the patience they have shown over the past 20 months of intensive negotiations and arbitration.
Minister Caica's comments in 'The Advertiser' on Monday about the lengthy delay being the AEU's fault is incorrect. The reality is that with such a large case‚ deferrals are inevitable due to the enormous workload involved in preparation. Both the Government and the AEU sought deferrals at different stages of the arbitration process. Perhaps Minister Caica was trying to deflect attention from the startling map published in 'The Advertiser' that showed clearly just how far behind the rest of the nation in terms of salary we now are.