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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . . Page.. 2036..

MR MULCAHY (continuing):

government, given the way we see agencies disappearing tonight. A modern workplace relations system is an essential component.

What are also worth recalling are the motives behind Labor's dogged insistence on engaging in repetitive and ultimately fruitless attacks on the WorkChoices legislation. The ALP is hopelessly beholden to the trade union movement, with unions having donated over $47 million to the ALP since 1995-96. So, unsurprisingly, their agenda is to try and protect the role of unions and union officials. Let us be honest: each member opposite has a level of indebtedness to the union movement.

Mr Speaker, I would like to finish by making a brief comparison between the industrial relations world under Labor and the industrial relations world of today, which paints a pretty clear picture. Under the heavily regulated Labor workplace relations system in the 1980s, millions of hardworking Australians were thrown onto the unemployment scrap heap. Today, under the coalition we have the highest number of Australians ever in full-time employment and the lowest unemployment since 1974. Only one year earlier, in 1973, at the height of the system of compulsory arbitration and union power, favoured by the Labor Party, the rate of disputes was 1,273 work days lost per 1,000. Under the coalition, industrial disputes have consistently remained at the lowest level of strikes since records were first kept in 1913.

So, Mr Speaker, under WorkChoices, we are left with record low unemployment, record low industrial disputes and strong and consistent economic growth. It seems that the WorkChoices model is already paying dividends. We see more people employed in the history of this country since records were kept. We see fewer people suffering the humiliation and the desperation associated with unemployment. Of course, the gloom and doom that have so often been predicted by people such as Mr Gentlemen and others have simply failed to materialise: the end of the weekend barbecue, we were told; mass sackings; and the ruination of peoples' lives. And these figures come out on the eve of the so-called week of action, or day of action that we heard about earlier this week.

It seems quite remarkable that there is still no acknowledgment that this new legislation will not contribute to unemployment. It will be so interesting in 12 months time to hear the explanation for all the fear tactics that we have had presented in this Assembly, when we do not see people leaving their jobs and we do not see peoples' rights violated. In fact, we see our economy continue to go from strength to strength. It is a great day for Australia to see these new employment figures. I urge members opposite to give some regard to this when they make predictions of gloom and doom.

The Assembly adjourned at 11.05 pm until Tuesday, 15 August 2006, at 10.30 am.

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