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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (15 November) . . Page.. 3429..


MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):

to obtain a contract for work. "We need to talk about value for the government's money as well."That is a subjective statement. Mrs Burke refers to that. Mrs Burke claims that the recommendation in the committee's report referring to the procurement process has been taken from that report.

When we are talking about ABNs and contract work, we should remember that during a public hearing Mrs Burke was so embarrassed over this subject that, as evidence was presented to the committee during the public hearing, regarding workers being forced on to ABNs and losing conditions of service, she left the room. That is right, Mr Speaker: during a public hearing, Mrs Burke just got up and left the room. That is how close to the bone this comes for those opposite. Of course, we know what Mrs Burke thinks about working mothers; we saw her comments yesterday. How atrocious, how offensive and how discriminatory it was to hear those yesterday.

Let me turn to WorkChoices. According to Sharan Burrow, from the Australian Council of Trade Unions:

This is another clear sign that WorkChoices is taking Australia down the United States path of a small number of executives earning obscene amounts while large numbers of workers are stuck on low wages.

Last week the head of the Howard government's wage setting body, Professor Ian Harper, confirmed that more than a million award workers have had a real pay cut of up to $800 a year under WorkChoices.

There was also some comment about unions in the report. Unions represent workers; they are not some remote organisation that appears in time of trouble and then disappears until the next time. Even those opposite, in spite of their entrenched dislike of the union movement and what it achieves, have benefited from hard-fought and hard-won improvements in working life over the past 100 years.

We do not and cannot ever have our own industrial relations system in the ACT, so our ability to change what has been inflicted on us by an uncaring and arrogant government is limited. We must set up mechanisms to track the incidents of erosion of conditions of service for working families. We have to do all we can at a government level to ensure that, as much as we can, we minimise the impact of this legislation on the families we are elected to protect. By educating, informing and having available for all workers, especially those at the margins of our society, facilities where they can seek both help and legal advice when needed, we will at least be able to assist in a positive way. I commend the report to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Public Accounts—Standing Committee

Statement by chair

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo): Pursuant to standing order 246A, I wish to make a statement on behalf of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in relation to certain Auditor-General's reports referred to the committee.


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