Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 760..
Sitting suspended from 12.38 to 2.30 pm
Questions without notice
National wage case
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Is the Chief Minister aware that the federal government, in its submission to the safety net review being undertaken by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, suggested a $10 weekly increase would be appropriate for workers on low wages, and nothing for anyone earning more than $492 a week? Does he agree that such a figure represents an increase of about two per cent for workers on minimum wages, well below the GST-fuelled inflation rate of about 6 per cent? Does the Chief Minister think a $10 increase is fair and reasonable?
MR HUMPHRIES: No, I do not, which is why the ACT government declined to be a party to that wages initiative.
MR STANHOPE: The Chief Minister took me by surprise. Can the Chief Minister confirm whether the ACT government did or did not make a submission and, if it did make a submission, did it argue in the submission that there was a case for a fair and reasonable increase in the minimum wage, and can the Chief Minister tell us what he thinks a fair and reasonable increase should be? What does he believe the minimum wage should increase to?
MR HUMPHRIES: The government did make a submission to the national wage case. That submission was separate from other non-Labor governments in Australia. There was an invitation to the ACT government to contribute to a joint coalition or non-Labor wage submission, but we declined to do that because we believed that a $10 a week submission was inappropriate. We did, however, make a submission of our own to the national wage case. I will be very happy to make a copy of that available if Mr Stanhope would like to see it.
It argues principles: that there has been a period of restraint in wages in the Australian context for a number of years, and it is appropriate for that restraint to be taken into account when a further round of wage increases is considered. It is our view that the principles to be expounded are very clear in that submission and, as I said, members can see a copy of that if they wish.
Commercial and retail leases legislation
MR HIRD: My question is to the Attorney General, Mr Stefaniak. Attorney, last night the parliament passed new legislation to cover commercial and retail leases. Can you advise the parliament what the effect of the new legislation will be?
MR STEFANIAK: Thank you. It is an important matter and I think most members realise that. The matter is, in fact, at the heart of the wellbeing of the ACT economy. The issues, of course, are a classic dilemma of finding a balance between the competing interests of capital and tenants. Investment in the growth of Canberra, Mr Hird, and the upgrading of our infrastructure are at the heart of the future of Canberra, our region, our