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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 20 May 1993) . . Page.. 1676 ..

Isolated Establishment Allowance

MS ELLIS: My question is directed to the Deputy Chief Minister in his capacity as Minister for Industrial Relations. My question is related to the payment of the isolated establishment allowance as reported in today's Canberra Times. Can the Minister advise whether the report is accurate and whether the same arrangement applies to ACT government employment?

MR BERRY: I thank Ms Ellis for the question. I was rather surprised that one of the Liberals, particularly Mr De Domenico, did not try to jump on the band wagon of employees' allowances, as he is often prone to do in an effort to undermine the rights of workers. This question is one that needs to be put straight in the ACT context. The matter relates to that article on the front page of the Canberra Times this morning. The article is based on a limited understanding, I am advised, of the rationale for payment of the isolated establishment allowance. The allowance is paid to employees required to work at certain prescribed locations which involve extra commuting where the employer locates the place of employment outside an urban area. Furthermore, in areas which are not serviced with public transport it means that employees must use private transport for work purposes. It is not the distance from the urban development which justifies the allowance. An isolated establishment is one which is located outside the boundary of the nearest urban area as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Canberra Times article also suggests that employees are also entitled to an additional car allowance. My advice is that this is not the case. The prescribed rate per kilometre is simply used to calculate the rate of isolated establishment allowance. It is not an additional allowance, according to my advice. I understand that the allowance, as with other reimbursement of costs allowances, is reviewed periodically by the Commonwealth. Consistent with this established process of review, the rate of the allowance has been recently increased by the Commonwealth.

The article may be misleading in its reference to the allowance being upgraded to comply with an industrial agreement recently struck with the Public Sector Union. In making the transition to a system of enterprise based productivity bargaining, the Commonwealth negotiated an agreement with all unions, drawing on existing employment conditions as a basis for entering less centralised arrangements for productivity bargaining. In the APS this provides, among other things, for the isolated establishment allowance to continue to apply and be varied in the usual way. The allowance has existed for many years and applies to Commonwealth Public Service Act employees. Accordingly, it continues to apply to transitional ACT staff employed under the Public Service Act. For other ACT government employees whose pay and conditions are aligned to Public Service Act conditions, this arrangement has also been inherited from the Commonwealth.

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