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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 671..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

protection of legislation that respects their rights as workers, as Australians and as members of families, have been sacked.

They were offered, in place of the job that they had and the terms and conditions that they enjoyed, individual contracts with a total package worth $25,000 less than the remuneration package and the conditions which they enjoyed last Friday. And you sit there and pretend that this legislation has no implications for the people of the ACT and you do not want me to respond to a question about the rights of Canberrans and the extent to which those rights have been washed away as a result of this legislation and of your sponsorship of and support for it. That is at the heart of the issue.

We know, and we have seen it already, that this is an ideological push to weaken the union movement within Australia, to remove from individual workers and groups of workers the right to collectively bargain, to negotiate terms and conditions, the right to earn a liveable wage, to support their families and to participate fully in the life of a society. We see through that one case, and we will see it time and time again from now on, individual workers being sacked and told that they can come back but they will come back under different conditions, with no protection for unfair dismissal.

What was the basis of the dismissal? When asked, the employer said, "I have hit some hard times, so I sacked them."That was the basis, that was the justification: "The books are not quite as good as I would have liked, so I sacked these three workers. But I still need the work to be done, so I have invited them back."The employer has invited them back, of course, at $25,000 a head less.

MS PORTER: I have a supplementary question. Can the Chief Minister inform the Assembly of the implications of the legislation for the right to strike and people's human rights in this regard?

MR STANHOPE: It is important that we address these issues. It is important that the people of the ACT understand the impact on their rights of this draconian legislation. The members of the Liberal Party in this place can fluster, bluff and pretend that it matters not, but it does and it is at the heart, of course, of the concerns of all thinking and caring Australians. There are three obvious, standout rights that are affected as a result of the passage of this legislation, its introduction and the fact that it is being used around Australia today. It has been in operation for 24 hours.

We know of the implication for the right, the long-held and cherished right, of Australians to collectively bargain. It was through the right to collectively bargain that all of you have benefited. The great hypocrisy that I find from the Liberal side of politics is that, if you did not benefit individually, at least you can be assured that your parents did. I know that Mr Stefaniak's parents did. They benefited from the existence of unions and collective bargaining. I would guarantee that all of you did, if not individually, through your parents, through your grandparents and through your brothers and sisters. Each of you, each of your parents, each of your grandparents, each of your brothers and sisters, each of your children that has taken an EBA union-negotiated pay rise or has benefited from paternity leave or maternity leave has benefited from the fact that we have had a strong union arrangement in Australia whereby workers have been able to collectively bargain and, through the muscle of their arrangement, achieve those outcomes.


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