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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1306..


MR BERRY: It is in relation to workers' wages and conditions. Workers' wages and conditions have a lot to do with industrial relations policy in this country, Mr Speaker. This was a meeting of Industrial Relations Ministers. I think that what Mr Roach said in relation to wages and conditions is entirely relevant.

MR SPEAKER: I will listen to you, but - - -

MR BERRY: Yes, please do, Mr Speaker. Mr Roach said that the days of cutting should be over; that what we should be aiming for is growth rather than cutting the guts out of wages and working conditions. He said:

Tactics of open-ended down-sizing and real wage compression are ultimately recipes for industrial extinction.

That is the point that I make in relation to the Liberals' policy on industrial relations. They are about weakening the position of working people in this country to a point where they can bring wages down so that they can improve the bottom line. I think experts throughout the world are coming to the realisation that that is not the way forward. These troglodytes opposite, of course, would not - - -

Mr De Domenico: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I suggest that, if you were to rule that the word "loony" was unparliamentary, perhaps you might want to rule that the word "troglodyte" is the same.

MR SPEAKER: I did not rule that the term "loony Left" used collectively was out of order. I will not rule that "troglodytes" used collectively is either. Continue, Mr Berry, but be careful.

MR BERRY: These relics of a bygone era opposite are clearly out of touch and are more interested in the confrontation with the workers movement than they are about sensible management in this country. I think Mr De Domenico's diatribe which he gave by way of a ministerial statement today should worry most working people out there. Mr De Domenico has automatically endorsed an approach to industrial relations in this country which will be about weakening the position of workers and cutting their wages and working conditions in real terms.

Mr Speaker, nobody can sit idly by and allow that to happen without comment. Nobody can be less than passionate about the issue. If Australia is about anything, it has been about fair play in the workplace and a balance of power in the workplace so that wages and working conditions, particularly the social wage, are maintained in this country. Indeed, wages, working conditions and social justice are an important feature of this country's history. Mr Speaker, I heard you say on radio the other day that social justice was not one of your strong points or was not something that you particularly supported, but I say to those Liberals opposite that social justice is something that has developed in this country. It has developed, in many ways, with the support of the workers movement.


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