Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 3 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 910..
MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):
Ms Gillard then announced the beginning of the end for the treacherous legislation. From midnight Thursday, 27 March 2008 AWAs are no longer allowed to be offered to workers. It is a wonderful victory for many of us. After all, many of us say this was the issue that decided the federal election.
I would like to thank Julia Gillard and the Rudd Labor government for their quick action on this important issue, an action that will include new legislation on ITEAs—individual transition employment agreements—a fairer solution to AWAs for all of those unfortunate workplaces where staff are still on AWAs. An employer who has staff on AWAs can offer a worker an ITEA that will be integrated in the new no disadvantage test. In the test ITEAs will be scrutinised against current collective agreements and awards as well as state long service leave requirements. It is a great way to fortify the new laws and a fabulous way to tear away the shoddy political veneer of the so-called Liberal fairness test.
We can also look forward to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission overhaul of the current award system. I have heard, of course, over the last couple of years the opposition on Work Choices, especially in relation to the economy and unemployment figures. I might ask those opposite: what is the point of a good economy if workers have little income to spend? What is the point of a great unemployment rate if the employment is dangerous, unfair and substandard?
One of the finer points of this new legislation may be that the Rudd Labor government will not spend billions of dollars of taxpayers' money, as the Liberals did, forcing it down our throats. I look forward to what the Rudd government has to offer, but I fear it may not be enough. I fear that we may be left with the old right of entry laws that hinder occupational health and safety practices. We may also see the unfair dismissal laws stagnating. I do fear the Rudd government may be looking down Iemma Avenue. There is more to do, but we are heading in the right direction.
In saying this, I must clarify that anything is better than John Howard's Work Choices. Anything is better than forcing retail workers to bring their own cash flows. Anything is better than forcing drivers to drive faster for longer for less. Anything is better than sacking valet drivers, 20 years faithful to their jobs, and offering them their jobs back at $300 a week less. Anything is better than fining and jailing innocent workers for pointing out safety issues and standing up for their mates. Anything is better than Work Choices.
But let us not get complacent and waste this opportunity. Let us work hard and make this new IR legislation the best in the world. Let us make our workers proud and happy to go to work. That is how I would like to tackle unemployment. In closing, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the federal opposition—and I have been waiting to say that for quite a while—have decided that AWAs were possibly not the best idea.
St Mary in the Valley
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (6.14): I rise tonight to talk about a very pleasant dinner I had on Friday night celebrating the 25th anniversary of St Mary in the Valley. It was a very nice affair conducted at the Southern Cross Club at Tuggeranong.