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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4233..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Let me put on the record my view. I would love to give workers in this territory and elsewhere the maximum possible benefits. I would love to give them extensive access to portability of long service leave. I would love to give them significant pay rises. I would love to give them benefits in the instance of disability or death in the workplace. I would love to greatly increase the standard of living of the people who work in this city. Almost everybody in this city is either a breadwinner in the work force or dependent on such a person.

The question in this debate is whether any of that is affordable. Every benefit we bestow from our lofty comfortable positions on the benches in this place on the workers of the ACT does not come out of our pockets. It comes out of the pockets of the people who employ them. The one element which is completely absent from this debate, which is paid lip-service to in the broadest way, but very slightly, is that there is some cost associated with this. We will get around to having a talk about what that cost might be. The cost is fundamental. That is what will decide whether or not we can afford to extend benefits of the kind referred to in this motion.

The territory is enjoying a buoyant economy at the moment, unemployment is low and we have the kind of economic activity which you might expect would lead us to think about expanding and spreading the benefits of our good economic fortune across a larger number of people-that is, from more employers to more employees.

Measures of the kind Ms MacDonald is talking about here do not exist just while there are good economic conditions. They subsist into the indefinite future. When the cycle turns round, people find that times are harder and employers think about shedding staff or not being able to hire staff is when-

MR SPEAKER: Order! With the time being 12.30, I understand it is the wish of the Assembly to suspend for lunch.

MR HUMPHRIES: I thought we wished to suspend when I finished my remarks, which is only 41/2 minutes away.

MR SPEAKER: I am told that it is the wish to suspend for lunch, so we will have to come back to you later, Mr Humphries.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.31 to 2.30 pm

Questions without notice

Health action plan

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, given that the health action plan is a three to five-year plan, can you inform members how much it will cost to implement its goals in that time frame?

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