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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 December 2021) . . Page.. 3988 ..

I recognise as well that our teachers need stability and support. As you heard this morning, Mr Deputy Speaker, this government cares about working people and their families. We are implementing a wide range of secure employment measures across government and across the territory.

Since late 2019, through the Education Directorate and the ACT government’s secure work program, over 600 classroom teachers have been permanently appointed or provided with long-term engagements. That is 600 secure positions provided by this government. Minister Berry, as the education minister, has overseen this transition.

Minister Berry has also insourced school cleaners. We know that cleaners are one of the most vulnerable working cohorts, who often experience wage theft in the private sector. Wage theft is a very serious and highly charged accusation. Wage theft is exploitative and horrific. Here in the ACT we have recently seen an example of one such horrific occurrence where massage therapists had their wages stolen and the safety of their families threatened. To compare the actions of their employer to this government is unfair and untrue. The ACT government is not committing wage theft. I want to be very clear about that.

Mr Hanson has misrepresented the working conditions of teachers in the ACT. I absolutely recognise that teachers are working a large number of hours, but they are not having their wages stolen. Under their enterprise agreement, teachers are paid a salary. There are no set hours under the agreement, but there is a provision for managing excess hours.

I look forward to working next year with the Chief Minister and Minister Berry, through enterprise bargaining, to get a good outcome for teachers. We will fix this collectively, together with teachers and their unions, not by shouting in this Assembly.

Mr Hanson says he is not a workplace lawyer. Nor am I. But, unlike Mr Hanson, both Minister Berry and I have spent decades working in the union movement. We understand the power of collective action. It is the voices of many, not the noisy one, that get things done. If the Canberra Liberals stopped pretending to care and actually started listening, they would know this. My challenge to Mr Hanson is that if he seriously cares about this, he should support all of the government’s future work on secure employment, workplace safety and industrial relations.

I support Minister Berry’s amendments and acknowledge her years of work in improving the education sector.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (4.15): I thank members for their contributions. I will not be supporting Ms Berry’s amendment. There is nothing in it that I would disagree with; the problem is that it so amends the essence of what we are calling for, which is a referral to the Fair Work Ombudsman, that it changes the whole nature of the motion.

There are a lot of things that we would agree with in the motion. A lot of words have been spoken about our hardworking teachers; it is good that we can all agree on that.

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