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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 October 2018) . . Page.. 4486 ..


to hear their concerns. It may come as a surprise, but those on this side of the chamber, the Canberra Liberals, actually do support the premise of freedom of speech, not just in the workplace but across the board. In fact, the Liberal Party of Australia as a whole adopts a belief in those most basic of freedoms—the freedom of thought, the freedom of worship, the freedom of speech and the freedom of association.

The bullying and poor workplace culture that makes it impossible for employees to feel safe enough to speak and share their experiences and views extends across the public service. There is a distinct lack of freedom of speech in workplaces in these instances. Currently, this is best demonstrated by ACT Health, where we see employees too afraid to speak out against the culture and bullying in their workplace. ACT Health employees, as we have learnt, are suicidal and are suffering from mental health issues—all as a result of a fear of speaking out in a toxic workplace culture. We have learnt of staff who have been performance managed out of their positions for using their freedom of speech to raise concerns where they exist.

Whilst Health has been in the spotlight in recent times, this poor workplace culture has extended to the Education Directorate and the corrections and disability directorates over many years. And let us not forget the work of our late colleague Steve Doszpot in highlighting the bullying culture that existed within CIT. These have not been addressed by successive Labor and Labor-Greens governments. There have been public statements by ministers and chief ministers stating that there is a zero tolerance approach to bullying in the ACT public service workplace, but the reality does not match the rhetoric. Canberra is a small place, and there is a fear in this town—a fear that if you speak out and share your thoughts, you may be punished.

We have seen, as part of the industrial relations reform agenda of the current government, a fear that if you are an employer in this town and you speak out against a trade union, you will be punished. You will not be awarded government contracts. You will be overlooked for contracts and work and, even worse, you may actually be targeted by those associated with the government and the trade union movement and harassed and bullied if you do not bend the knee to union demands.

The current Labor-Greens government have made it abundantly clear that their intention is to circumvent the laws that are in place in the industrial relations space, particularly the Fair Work Act, and make up their own rules, in conjunction with allowing greater access by trade unions into businesses. These contraventions mean that actual discrimination can occur if you are not a union member or a union affiliated workplace.

The jobs code legislation makes it a requirement for an employer to discriminate between employees on the basis of union membership by generally implementing arrangements for workplace representation that favour union members over non-union members—a clear contravention of the Fair Work Act and, I would say, an impingement on an individual’s freedom of speech.

Again, the fact that this subject has been raised by a Labor member in our Assembly today shows the sheer hypocrisy of this government. For us on this side of the


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