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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4215..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

I am very pleased to be standing here today and talking about this very important matter as a member of the Labor government that has signalled very clearly that it intends to treat workers rights, entitlements, pay and conditions as a top priority. This motion is just another sign that the members of the Stanhope government want to treat the Canberra work force with the fairness and respect that was missing for much of the previous six years.

Opposition members: Ha, ha!

MS MacDONALD: It surprises me not that members opposite scoff at that. I expected no less. My motion today calls on the members of the Assembly to recognise that, when it comes to industrial relations, disparities within the ACT and between the ACT and surrounding New South Wales exist, a fact that the opposition cannot deny. That is unfair and places the ACT behind the eight ball when it comes to competing with other jurisdictions for skilled and eager workers.

My motion also asks members to recognise that these disparities play a role in how members of the ACT work force make decisions about when and where they work. My motion asks members to recognise that women are adversely affected due to current long service leave arrangements in the ACT. Most importantly, my motion asks for specific action to be taken by the government, which recognises that a better long service leave model needs to be implemented. As part of that long service leave model for the ACT, I want the Assembly to recognise that portable long service leave for territory workers needs to be considered as a real possibility and one that is achievable.

I thought it was interesting that Chris Peters of the Chamber of Commerce took great delight in announcing last week that the whole notion of portable long service leave was a nonsense. Mr Peters claimed in a Canberra Times article that the idea went against the historical application and incentive of dedication to one employer for a long time. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The application of long service leave has been changing for some time and I think that the passing of my motion today will see the ACT develop a progressive and affordable industrial relations framework which will benefit employees, employers and the ACT economy and community as a whole.

In the year that the Stanhope Labor government has been in power, a serious and responsible approach to industrial relations has been a characteristic of the government and innovative approaches to selling and improving the ACT economy have been a constant feature. I highlight these points because this motion will cover those areas and members need to be fully aware of the possibilities on offer to the ACT government as we consider the benefits of delivering results in the long service leave area.

I can stand here today and boast with absolute ease about the Stanhope government's record of successfully and responsibly cleaning up the economic and industrial relations mess left behind by the previous Liberal government. I only need to point to the swift and popular resolution of the long-running nurses dispute as evidence of that. The former Liberal government let the dispute drag on for a year. I can only imagine that this matter was just another one of the long list of things they were going to do.

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