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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 15 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4847..


MR SESELJA (continuing):

I have not heard Mr Gentleman put forward an argument. I call on him to put forward the argument in his closing remarks. I call on him to do it without reading it; come forward with the argument-

Mrs Burke: From the heart.

MR SESELJA: From the heart, tell us why the secret ballot is not a good thing. Who is it protecting? It protects against bullies. When there is a secret ballot it is very hard to force someone to vote a particular way, but when there is not a secret ballot it is somewhat easier; pressure can be put on. That is the reason behind pushing for secret ballots. I have not heard one single argument, one reasonable argument, put forward.

I heard Dr Foskey throw out an argument just then, which I do not think is a reasonable one. But I have not heard one reasonable argument as to why requiring a secret ballot would be a bad thing and why that would threaten workers. It simply threatens union officials; it simply threatens thugs who would seek to bully people into industrial action against their will.

I conclude by restating some of the key points. Since 1996, under this so-called insidious, obnoxious and fundamentally hostile system, we have seen 1.7 million new jobs; we have seen the lowest unemployment in almost 30 years; we have seen real wages growth of 14.9 per cent.

Mr Quinlan: It is all down to Paul Keating, for God's sake.

MR SESELJA: Under Paul Keating, real wages growth was 1.2 per cent in 13 years. It was 1.2 per cent under Hawke and Keating. We have seen the lowest levels of industrial disputes since records were kept in 1913.

This is the so-called insidious and obnoxious system. This is the same system which Mr Gentleman now says is so good that we need to retain it; this is the system which the Chief Minister says is so perfect that we do not have to change anything ever again because things are so good.

We need to keep changing things; we need to keep making improvements; we need to build on what has happened in the last few years; we need to build on the very strong economy we have in this country. Mr Gentleman will probably continue with motions such as this one in the coming years, but I am sure that his arguments will look weaker and weaker as the system is put in place and people enjoy higher wages and better conditions and continue to be able to go to barbecues and live a good way of life. Unemployment, I expect, will even drop in this time. I look forward to more motions like this where we can discuss, compare and contrast how the system is progressing in the current context.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4.15), in reply: I thank Mr Sesejla for his comments. This motion call on the federal government to admit that harmonious workplace relationships have developed between employees, unions and employers and have resulted in a productive economy. I start by challenging some of the opposition's furphies here this afternoon.


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