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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . .

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we have long stood for ensuring that the interests of those in the workforce, those who contribute their labour in either the public or the private sectors, are appropriately protected, and that they have the capacity to enjoy conditions of employment which respect their basic dignity and the connections they have with community and family.

What we see through this bill that we are discussing in the context of this motion is an attempt to start to undermine some of those very important protections. We will hear claims about flexibility and we will hear claims about productivity, but I do not think it is reasonable that if you are asked to work on a weekend or a public holiday, what you get paid is the same as you get paid on a weekday. I do not think that is reasonable, because they are weekends and they are public holidays for a reason. They are there for people to do things outside their economic lives, to contribute to their community socially, to connect and reconnect with their families. If those things are undermined then we undermine the sense of community and the sense of connectedness that builds a society, not just an economy.

These are very important issues. They are at the heart of what Labor is about, both federally and locally. It is very important that we bring them to the attention of the Assembly today because there are many people in our community who will be affected by these changes, and they know they will be affected by these changes, and they are concerned about those. It is not those like us who perhaps have more influence and more capacity to manage these issues; it is those people on lower incomes, and those people with less capacity to influence their day-to-day circumstances, particularly their work circumstances. That is why these protections are in the Fair Work Act in the first place and why they should remain—why they should not be insidiously eroded away, insidiously chipped away at, which we know is the agenda of the federal Liberals.

They said at the last election, "No, we're going to keep the Fair Work Act. There are not going to be any changes to it." Equally they said that Work Choices was "dead and buried". Of course we know that is not a very fair claim for them to make because we know what their agenda is. It is to radically restructure labour laws in Australia. It is to undermine the capacity of ordinary people to enjoy that connection with their society, with their community, with their family. They are not just economic units of labour; they are people with connections, with community and with family. That is what these provisions are fundamentally about protecting.

We understand what the agenda is from those opposite. We know what it will mean for people here in Canberra and we are determined to bring those issues to the Assembly's attention and, equally, to stand against those changes because of the detrimental impact they will have on so many people in our community.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (4.16): I will start by noting Mr Smyth's anti-union show in response to my motion and suggest that he gets used to me bringing the voice of organised labour into this place, because I will do that at every opportunity. I also note that Mr Smyth did not put that same show on when the ANMF were in here, but perhaps it is not the ANMF that will have their members' penalty rates removed; perhaps it is just low paid workers who would have their penalty rates removed that Mr Smyth would be supportive of.


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