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is proposing. In my mind, it is an issue of giving everybody an equal chance of taking advantage of this reform, regardless of their marital status or their partner's or parents' financial status. It seems to me that that is an all-embracing approach that ought to be tested.

If we were to discover, for instance, that there was some abuse of this scheme - and it is difficult for me to imagine what might be termed abuse of this scheme - we could take remedial measures. I spent many years in the Public Service at a time when things like maternity leave and carer’s leave were being mooted, and the greatest concern expressed by the more conservative forces was that these provisions would be abused. Women who took two or three successive lots of maternity leave were said to be abusing the system. Of course they were not; they were making use of the system in a perfectly legal and responsible way. But there was a worry that it would be abused. I still wonder how it would be possible to abuse a maternity leave provision. It would be so easy to be caught out.

Mr Berry: I would not get away with it.

MS FOLLETT: No, you would not. Similarly, I often think the worry about abuse of systems is perhaps showing an oversensitivity and that the concerns are more apparent than real. I believe that it would be entirely possible for this scheme to be extended to the groups of people I have spoken of. It would be a step towards greater equality in our society if it were to be so extended. I would, of course, support any moves to remove abuse of the system, if such abuse were to be found.

As I have already said, I think it is very important that we guard carefully against abuse by employers of the payroll tax exemption, and both Mrs Carnell and I have referred to the possible worry about existing employees being replaced by long-term unemployed people. That has to be guarded against; but there is no rule about that. There is no provision in the legislation as to how we might do it. We are just going to have to rely on the CES and on good corporate citizens to ensure that that abuse does not occur. I think we could apply the same sort of tolerance to the groups of people whom my amendment is aimed at embracing, and I again urge members to vote for it.

MR MOORE (5.30): Mr Speaker, there is one other point that ought to be made in this situation. When we are talking about payroll tax, we are talking about big businesses who pay more than $500,000-odd. That is roughly the cut-off level. In the ACT, these businesses are invariably banks, hotels, the casino - places like that; a number of very big businesses. We are talking about very responsible corporate citizens whose image would be severely tarnished if they were to abuse a system like this. With that in mind, I think there is far less chance of its being abused, and that is why I would encourage members to reconsider their position and support this amendment.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (5.31): Let me make a closing comment. Again I say that we will be opposing these amendments, not because we oppose the sentiment but because it is an issue of enforcement. I undertake, if these amendments do not get up today, to continue to look at this issue and to continue to look at areas where we can give incentives to employers to take on long-term unemployed.

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