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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (20 October) . . Page.. 3386..


SCHOOL BURSARS - REPAYMENT OF MONEYS

Debate resumed.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (4.02): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, section 187AA(1)(d) of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 prohibits an employer from making a payment to an employee in relation to a period when the employee is engaged in industrial action. This provision also prevents an employee from accepting payment from that employer. This morning in this place we put on the table a legal opinion from the Chief Solicitor, Phillip Mitchell, with regard to this motion. The opinion that was given by the Government Solicitor, quite clearly - there is no other way to look at it - is that the provisions of section 187AA are mandatory and non-discretionary. In other words, the Treasury is prohibited from making the payments referred to in the proposed motion.

Mr Berry: What about firefighters and nurses?

MS CARNELL: Mr Berry can bring forward other issues, but what we have here is a very specific motion requiring the Government to do something that our legal advice says we are unable to do.

Mr Berry: I am prepared to amend it along the same lines as the firefighters and nurses.

MS CARNELL: There is nothing in this motion about firefighters or nurses. This is about the Government's capacity to pay the bursars for time when they were engaged in industrial action. Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, section 4(1)(b) defines industrial action as including any ban, limitation or restriction on the performance of work. This morning Mr Berry seemed to make the comment that you should pay people as long as they go to work. In other words, you can go to work in the morning, do nothing, and get paid. This Government does not agree with that view.

Mr Berry: That's not what happened with the bursars.

MS CARNELL: It is true. Absolutely no bursar was stood down. The bursars walked out.

Mr Berry: They had their pay taken off them.

MS CARNELL

: Sorry; they walked out. Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, 29 bursars put in place bans on submitting financial statements as part of a long-running pay dispute. They had every right to do that. The bans were part of the core work of a bursar's job. I think Mr Stefaniak this morning showed that. I think he might have tabled that information. In a conference on 26 July 1999, Commissioner Deegan was made aware by the Department of Education and Community Services that they were required, under the Workplace Relations Act 1996, to withhold the bursars' pay. The Industrial


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