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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 6 May 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1946 ..


five years. We are not changing that. We are not asking them to make provision after three years; we are keeping those arrangements the same. This is merely giving employees access to that entitlement, which should be provided for if businesses are doing the right thing. It should already be in the bank, already sitting there as an accumulated liability, to give those working people pro rata access—not 10 years access, but seven years access—to this entitlement. That is the change.

If we were to accept the arguments being put by the opposition you would think we were having a revolution in industrial relations here with this legislation—that we were changing everything, that we were imposing some sort of left-wing, new model of long service leave. What we are saying is that the workplace has changed, people do not stay as long with employers as they have in the past, for a range of reasons—not only choice of the employee—and that, in recognition of that, this entitlement should be modernised.

Those opposite argue that it was for 10 years and therefore it can only be for 10 years. Apart from going back to the 1950s, and we know they would like to, if you accept their argument, there should never be any change to any legislation, ever: when it was brought in, that was the way it was and it should never reflect any changes in the community or any changes in demographics. Their view is that long service leave was for 10 years and that is the only way it can be, because when it evolved it was for 10 years service. That does not take into account the way the workplace is in 2005, and that is what this legislation does.

Private sector workers, it is clear, now know that, if those opposite were ever in government, there would be constant attacks on their conditions of service. Employees and employers of the ACT need to know that Mr Mulcahy is not interested in what is best for the territory or what is best for working people. We know Mr Mulcahy has had a long history in business, a long history in management in business, but what Mr Mulcahy has to understand is that he does not work for “Legislative Assembly Incorporated”; he is not the chief executive; he is not a boss any more. He is here to represent his electorate, and his electorate is made up of ordinary Canberrans. Yes, some of those people will work in business and some of them will be managers in business, but he is here to represent ordinary working people and put their interests first—not the interests of business or heads of business or the big end of town. That is not what he is here to do.

We have taken into consideration everybody’s comments. We stand here and take into consideration all stakeholders involved. We are not representing one arm of the community with this legislation change. I think the opposition needs to get over their ideological hatred of the union movement. I really think that would help in the debate, because it would provide a little more balance. They almost froth at the mouth when they have to talk about our relationship with unions, the evils that the unions represent. Of course they forget to accept that the unions are still the largest community organisation across Australia. In fact, the unions have done a lot of good things, including providing improvements in working people’s conditions of employment, from which all of us here today, getting paid our wage and enjoying our nice conditions of service, benefit.

Mr Smyth: Eighty-two per cent of the ACT aren’t in a union.

MR SPEAKER: Order!


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