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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 2380..


MR SESELJA (continuing):

That disgraceful comment shows the level to which the union movement has sunk in bringing forward these debates and in seeking to push its case. In 1995 and 1996 when the Howard government first came into office and was reforming the industrial relations system, the doomsayers in the Labor Party said, "We will all be rooned. There will be mass sackings and massive unemployment."

Unemployment has been steadily falling and real wages have gone up by around 16 per cent over the past 10 years. In the three months since the introduction of the WorkChoices legislation a massive number of new jobs has been created in this country and unemployment is at a record low. Is that not a wonderful thing? It is time that Mr Gentleman, instead of whinging about it, said, "Is it not great that the Howard government is contributing to a massive growth in employment?"

Members-pairs

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.48): I take up with where I left off after question time when I was refused leave by the Assembly to move a motion. Yesterday Mr Stanhope said, "There is no justification or basis on which Ms MacDonald was refused a pair."It is interesting that Mr Stanhope said that. I sought written advice on what we were told last week and I was lucky enough to receive a copy of an email from the manager, committees, Legislative Assembly of the ACT, which states:

I confirm that a pairs system does not operate in committees and has never operated in committees either here or federally. Notwithstanding the small size of Assembly committees, a pairs convention would make committees unworkable if one member of either major party was absent and required a pair, as all committees except Estimates comprise 3 members. Federally, where committees are much larger, typically 6 members in Senate committees and 10 or more in Reps committees, more in joint committees, no pairs system operates.

That is interesting because the Chief Minister said there was no justification or basis on which Ms MacDonald was refused a pair. Who in this place has the most experience of federal committees? It is not me; I was on a committee for a year but that is all. Which individual serving in this place has the most experience and knowledge of federal committees? According to the "Find your ACT Labor representative printable page", it is Jon Stanhope, secretary of the House of Representative Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Jon Stanhope initiated and managed a parliamentary inquiry resulting in the Half Way to Equal report, the most detailed analysis of issues related to equality for women. Who knows, who knew and who should have known? The Chief Minister should have known that what he said yesterday was not true. He said there was no justification or basis on which Ms MacDonald was refused a pair. Yes there is a justification; there is no pairs system. There is no law, no legislation, no regulation, no standing order and no convention to cover pairs in committees.

Mrs Dunne: There is no gentleman's agreement.

MR SMYTH: Indeed, there is no gentleman's agreement. In the last Assembly we endeavoured to set up a system to accommodate a member who was interstate or


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