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I believe that it is appropriate for us to accept what the Remuneration Tribunal sets and to proceed from there in an appropriate way. The sort of political grandstanding that goes with this move, I think, is seen through by most people. When Dennis Stevenson did it, most people thought, “Yes, they think they are going to get a good standing in the community because they knocked back a bit of money, and everybody is going to think they are wonderful”. It makes no difference. I think it ought to be seen for what it is - a stunt, and it is a stunt that I think sets a poor precedent. When we actually put something at arm’s length and we want it done, that is how we should operate. If the Remuneration Tribunal had said that we were getting paid too much money and therefore we should reduce it, that is something we would also have to accept, rather than knocking back a determination to that effect. We have an arbiter, an umpire. We accept the umpire's decision.

MR BERRY (10.47): The Opposition will be opposing this move by the Greens. Working people throughout Australia have come to accept the principle of arbitration and the setting of wages and conditions by independent tribunals. It is part of the lifestyle of Australians, and the independence of those tribunals is something we have to protect. In this case, it has been argued that a range of people, from politicians through public servants, the people who serve on boards and statutory office-holders, should not receive the 2 per cent wage increase which has been decided upon by the Remuneration Tribunal. It is all right to have a shot at the politicians - one expects that in this game - but I would like to defend the public servants and the office-bearers in statutory positions, as well as those people who serve on boards of management and statutory boards throughout the ACT. They too subject themselves to this independent tribunal to determine an appropriate remuneration for the work they do.

In this country, some people earn more than others; but it seems that in this case the Greens have been smitten by the language of the Government in relation to their budget, accepting the Henny Penny argument from the Government, which would give rise to a great range of people not receiving pay rises. We do not accept that argument. We take the view that, if there is an independent tribunal that is able to set pay and conditions for a range of people, you have ample opportunity to make submissions. In June this year - I think it was on 1 June - I received a letter from the Remuneration Tribunal, and so did everybody else, which invited submissions in relation to the matter. I think they asked that submissions be provided by the end of June. I have been in touch with the Remuneration Tribunal, and I have found out that there has been one submission from a member in the ACT and that was not a Green. If you are fair dinkum about this issue, that is the time when you make a submission.

I accept that we have the right to overturn this decision if it is demonstrably wrong, but I do not think there has been a case made out that the decision of the tribunal was demonstrably wrong. It is a decision that has been arrived at through examination of the issues, and it was mentioned in the letter to us that there had been 2 per cent increases in various other legislatures. I think it comes back to that point I just raised. If there is something that is demonstrably wrong, we have an obligation to examine the issue and make a decision about it. No case has been made out that this is demonstrably wrong, and I do not think the Greens have a leg to stand on. They had their chance to make their submission to the tribunal and have it assessed and a decision made on it. They did not take that opportunity, and that is disappointing.

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