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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . . Page.. 1985..

MR BARR (continuing):

Working Families in the Australian Capital Territory-Select Committee-interim report-government response.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

The government welcomes the interim report of the Select Committee on Working Families in the ACT and was pleased to note the level of interest shown by stakeholders through the submissions and attendance at public hearings. The interim report provides a comprehensive overview of the issues raised by stakeholders and summarises the core features of the legislative changes introduced by the commonwealth, with focus on the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005, the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 and the Workplace Relations Amendment (Better Bargaining) Bill 2005.

Recommendations 1 and 2 relate to proposed amendments to the terms of reference of the committee. Recommendation 1 proposes that the terms of reference be amended. Recommendation 2 proposes the amended terms of reference, with focus on the commonwealth legislation that stakeholders see as having the most significant impact on working families in the ACT. The amended terms of reference also include consideration of the impact of the commonwealth legislation on current or potential ACT legislation. The government agrees with recommendations 1 and 2, as they focus the work of the committee on areas identified as having the most significant impact on working families in the ACT, while continuing to provide scope to consider other matters.

Recommendation 3 proposes that the report and time frame for the committee be extended to August 2007. The extension of time for the committee's substantive report will enable time for the impact of the commonwealth legislation on working families to be reliably reported on. In the ACT, where it is expected that all employers and employees will be covered by the WorkChoices legislation, the impacts of WorkChoices may not be fully realised until current workplace agreements are renegotiated or the award rationalisation process is completed. The government agrees with recommendation 3.

The final recommendation seeks resources for research support for the committee to enable the effects of the commonwealth legislative changes on working families in the ACT to be adequately assessed. Whilst the government acknowledges the important work of the committee, it would not be appropriate for the government to provide funding or departmental resources to the committee. The provision of departmental resources to support the committee may appear to compromise the independence of the committee's findings. The government therefore does not agree with recommendation 4.

The government congratulates the select committee on the interim report and the work undertaken in considering the impact of commonwealth legislation on working families in the ACT. It is important that the community have the opportunity to comment on the effect that the commonwealth legislation is having on families in the ACT. The select committee provides this opportunity. The government looks forward to the further work

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