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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 15 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 December 2005) . . Page.. 4848 ..


Mr Mulcahy says that young people will have more opportunity for work in the ACT under these new laws. I ask myself why Mr Mulcahy is so confident that WorkChoices will provide more jobs. There does not seem to be any job-creation projects in either the 600-odd-page bill or the 500-odd-page explanatory note. I think I know why. I think it is because Mr Mulcahy understands that WorkChoices allows employers to sack workers without fear of retribution. Employers can sack workers at Christmas because they asked for a holiday. That frees up a couple of jobs, does it not? Sacked for wanting a Christmas holiday! Heaven forbid if you asked for a pay rise!

When Mr Mulcahy talks about the violence and tyranny of yesteryear, we should remind the Assembly and the people of the ACT that the union movement has never used attack dogs and balaclavas; nor have they seen fit to train militia overseas for an overthrow based on increasing profits.

My favourite is the make-up of the Australian Labor Party. I am proud of my party’s history and its links with this country’s largest social movement, the union movement. And I am proud that at our party’s ACT annual conference we had in attendance some 160 delegates. But that was a bit different to Mr Mulcahy’s Liberal Party. I understand his shindig attracted about 64 people. He was lucky to get a third of ours. How is that for representation of your constituency! Do not worry, Mr Mulcahy, you will have lots of time to think on how lonely it is in the Liberal Party when you enjoy your paid holidays at Christmas, unlike those workers from the coalmine.

Mr Seselja said that employees will be able to keep their conditions until they trade them off. I ask him: how does that apply to these sacked miners? How will they be spending their Christmas?

As Mr Mulcahy reflects on my speech he should remember that not I alone nor the ACT government are the only ones raising concerns about WorkChoices. Remember those 500,000 workers who participated in the national day of action, the biggest worker action we have ever seen in the ACT; the religious groups who have voiced their concerns; the 5,400 submissions to the Senate inquiry; and the 85,189 people asking the Christmas goose to cross the floor.

Mr Smyth said that we now have the lowest rate of industrial action since 1913. I remind him, again, of the 500,000 workers on a day of national action.

Now to Mrs Burke’s comments. She waxed lyrical about the desire of employers to work under a simpler system. Is this because she believes employers are too simple to understand the current system? Maybe it is because she has herself been a little confused in the past. But I digress.

As I said, this motion calls on the federal government to admit that harmonious workplace relationships have developed between employees, unions and employers and have resulted in a productive economy. I would like to think that I am clever in throwing the federal government’s words back in their faces. But, alas, I am just being truthful.

Unlike the federal government, I have 151 academics to back up what I say about productivity. I quote from their submission to the Senate inquiry into WorkChoices:


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