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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 6 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1852..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

The terms of reference of Mr Gentleman's motion are broad and recognise the impact that work and family issues have over a range of portfolios. They also identify that there are many potential risks on the horizon in the field of commonwealth-state financial relations and they will warrant close scrutiny by both the ACT government of the day and the Assembly itself as the picture unfolds over time. The threats posed by the recent shifts in federal government policy warrant a bipartisan approach to protecting the interests of ACT families. We recognise that work and family issues are not confined to the industrial relations portfolio. To properly address this important social issue, a cross-portfolio approach needs to be taken.

Family composition is changing. In the ACT, there are 51,820 families with children. Couples comprise about 39,326 of the families and one-parent families comprise the remaining 12,494. Of the 39,000 couples, 33,000 families have dependent children and students. Of the one-parent families, 9,265 have dependent children and students. People in Canberra have the highest levels in Australia of participation in the work force. As I have said, 78 per cent participate in the labour force compared with 72 per cent nationally.

More women in the work force are employed full time in Canberra than nationally, with 63 per cent working full time compared with 54 per cent nationally. For couple families with children under 15, two-thirds, 66 per cent, have both parents employed. For one-parent families with children less than 15, 63 per cent are employed compared with only 46 per cent nationally. The experience of having dual or many roles impacts on workers and the workplace.

Mr Speaker, the ACT government is very happy to support the motion put forward by Mr Gentleman. It is an extremely important area of inquiry and one on which I know the opposition, once they get over their opposition to it, will work cooperatively with the government in delivering advice and inquiring into the many changes that we are going to see over the next year. The government looks forward to the report and to responding to the report once it is completed.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (11.33), in reply: I rise to speak against Mr Smyth's amendment and for my motion. This committee needs to be able to report on all of the possible changes mentioned. We are of the strong belief that this work will carry on well past December 2005. With that in mind, the committee should continue past December and make interim reports as well as the one for August 2006, as noted in the motion. The IR changes mentioned will continue for some time and the committee needs that time to analyse those changes.

Mr Speaker, I was astounded by the comments made by the opposition, especially Mrs Dunne. I tried on two occasions this week to talk to Mrs Dunne, only to find her office empty. I emailed her without response. This morning, I had my first chance to have a word to Mrs Dunne. She advised me this morning that she would look at supporting this motion with some minor amendments. Then, not 20 minutes ago, she said in this chamber that she would support the motion if we amended the reporting period, quite contrary to her words earlier.


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