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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 1 Hansard (21 February) . . Page.. 97..


MR BERRY: That was their public position. It went out on 6 February. The Government, acting in response to the fact that there was Independent and Green support for this approach, backed off a little and said, "Oh, well, we will not require annual elections; you will have to do it only once". Now that they have found out that they do not have support for that either, they have backed right off. Why do you not negotiate with the unions now? That would be nice. Why do you not negotiate with them? Forget about all of the grandstanding and negotiate with the lot of them, instead of trying to beat them into submission by trying to buy off sectors of the trade union movement and just fooling around. What you have created by your misbehaviour in the industrial arena is a range of confrontation that we do not need. If you have backed off on this issue, I welcome it; but I will still press to have the motion passed, because I think we need to have on the Assembly record a motion which says, "Mrs Carnell, you cannot do this to workers; this is discriminatory".

One thing that was most disappointing was that when you made this decision you were driven by your ideology, not your brain. Had you been using your commonsense, what you would have done was consult your own laws - the laws that you are responsible for. Mr Humphries may well have advised you, had you asked him. Maybe he would have been prepared to give you another Christmas speech about your frailties.

MR SPEAKER: Relevance, Mr Berry!

MR BERRY: Mr Humphries might have advised Mrs Carnell, had he had his eye on the ball, that what she was doing was discriminatory. Perhaps Mrs Carnell should have consulted him before she made the decision. Mr Humphries is now the senior lawyer in the Territory and should be consulted on matters which may offend the law; and you have not done that. If you did, then you have ignored the advice. You have to accept this motion. It deserves the support of this Assembly.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (10.55): Mr Speaker, yesterday the Assembly wasted hours debating an abortive attempt to censure this Government on its approach to industrial relations, which is fine. It is the right of this Assembly. But it seems clear that the debate today on options available to staff to pay their union dues will lead, if we do not do something now, to similarly lengthy debate based upon no particular logic and based upon nothing whatsoever.

Ms Follett: It is based on the rights of trade union members. Wake up to yourself!

MRS CARNELL: You are playing to the crowd, Ms Follett. From the outset, at no time has this Government or its officials attempted to deny the right of unionists to pay their dues through the payroll; in fact, quite the opposite.

An incident having occurred in the gallery -

Mr De Domenico: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Earlier this morning I was asked to withdraw the comment "That is a lie".

MR SPEAKER: If there is any further noise of that nature from the gallery, I shall be obliged to clear the gallery. You are welcome to come in and listen to the debate.


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