Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 September 2005) . . Page.. 3436 ..
• negative impact of secret individual contracts; and
• calls on the Federal Government to consult immediately with the ACT Government on the proposed changes to industrial relations laws in order to ensure the protection of existing employment conditions for ACT workers.
On 16 August I raised with this Assembly the disgraceful attempt by the federal government to limit the rights of owner-drivers through its proposed independent contractors act. The right to representation, to collectively bargain and the right to fight unfair contracts and dismissals will be stripped away, forcing colleagues to compete in the race to the bottom. Those were my statements. There are those on the hill who are not content in scrapping the rights of owner-drivers across the nation. These bullies are determined to extend the culling of rights and entitlements to all working people. This motion seeks to bring to the attention of this Assembly the extent of damage the federal government hopes to inflict on workers in the ACT.
The new industrial relations laws could be upon us as soon as October this year. Rights like four weeks annual leave and the personal leave that were fought for by our parents, and theirs, could be negotiated away for a price, but at what price the federal government is unclear. So too is their confused definition of the term “negotiation”. Can genuine negotiations take place in an environment where workers can be sacked without any reason or recourse? I think not. I am not alone in my concern over these changes and their potential impact.
On 5 August 2005 state and territory industrial relations ministers met with the federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Mr Kevin Andrews. At this meeting the state and territory ministers sought from Minister Andrews a commitment that no ACT worker would be worse off under his government’s proposed industrial relations laws. An assurance was sought that no secret individual contract would offer less take-home pay than that available under the relevant award. Further sought was a commitment that fair minimum standards would be set by a truly independent umpire. The response from the federal government’s IR lackey was that no guarantee would be given that ACT workers would not be worse off under their proposed industrial relations changes.
There is no guarantee that the take-home pay of ACT workers will not be reduced as a result of proposed IR changes. There is no guarantee that ACT workers will not have to supplement their pay through trading-off annual leave. There is no guarantee that young workers in our community will not be forced into working environments where they are too scared of dismissal to raise safety issues or request a pay increase. It would be wrong of me to state that the federal government has not consulted on these changes. Further, it would be wrong of me to state that the government even drafted these changes. The parallels between the policies of the Business Council of Australia and the proposed changes are astonishing, written by the same hands possibly; at very least the proverbial doors being left open.
This open door policy applies only to those organisations that annually grease the pockets of the Liberal Party. However, the ACT government, voted in to represent the working people in our society, have had the door closed in their faces. The federal