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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1845 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

While we recognise that most groups in the community sector do an excellent job, an obvious reason that the Liberal Government finds the community sector attractive is that it is not bound by strong industrial awards. What this means is that people doing equivalent work in the public sector are paid reasonable wages because of the overtime they can accrue, while people doing the same work in the community sector will be paid much less. This is particularly offensive to me in light of the Liberal Government's rhetoric about paying top dollar to our senior executives. How is it that in our community the Liberals see it as reasonable that one worker should receive $26,000 for doing valuable and stressful social work while another receives $140,000? They both live in the same society and have the same basic costs. Do we really want executive officers who will work only if they receive these extraordinary salaries when the social implications are so serious - the ever-widening gap between rich and poor?

Often community organisations are squeezed. I come from a background of working in them and I know it from first-hand experience. They face a dilemma in offering the best services and conditions for their staff. This is a problem this Government must address, and a good start would be seriously considering the funding of the community sector once the social and community sector award is implemented. Mr Speaker, doubtless Mr Stefaniak will draw attention to the fact that Kaleen youth workers took strike action to seek to resolve their dispute. Perhaps this action was not the most appropriate action to take, but they took this course of action because the Government would not talk with them. Indeed, the Minister has repeatedly refused to see them. It is the last action they can take.

There are also questions to be answered about the tendering process - the time allowed for this and the lack of support for would-be tenderers who may have excellent youth work credentials but do not have expertise in tendering processes. This service has been in the private sector before and it was badly messed up. It was returned to the public sector and has been well run for a number of years. Even Neighbourhood Watch has supported the way this service has been run. It is not the sort of facility that neighbourhoods often want to have in their area. I think it is important to note this Neighbourhood Watch support.

Finally, I would like to reiterate the point that this Government created the problem and that they should not seek to solve it at the expense of young people and the dedicated staff who care for them. This Government is pushing ahead with its so-called reforms without giving this Assembly an opportunity to closely examine the many social and environmental implications. We have just heard Ms Follett speaking on this same issue. We heard very clearly from Mrs Carnell right through the election campaign that she was definitely supportive of committees having the right to look in detail at any policies which had serious implications. It did not happen with the corporatisation of ACTEW; it is not happening with these other serious changes. They are a minority government and they have a responsibility to allow the Assembly time to look at these issues.

Mr Connolly: And they are not even listening to what you are saying.

Mr De Domenico: We are talking here, smart arse.

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