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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2144 ..

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (5.08): Mr Speaker, it seems from their raising this topic for debate that the Greens have been captured by the rhetoric of the union movement. I think that is very unfortunate, as the Greens have always suggested that they have a quite open mind to these sorts of issues. If they had an open mind they would be interested in hearing both sides of the story and having a proper briefing on what is happening in this area.

It is not a coincidence that today's debate comes on the eve of tomorrow's meeting of government representatives and the unions to continue negotiations about the new enterprise-based agreements for the ACT Government Service. I believe that it is that meeting tomorrow that is the reason why we are here at 5.10 pm. That is the reason why this had to come on today. We have had this meeting planned for quite a while now. This is the next step of the whole approach. So why were the Greens so desperate for this to come on today? The current enterprise agreement does not finish until the end of December. The process is in place; it is going ahead. This Assembly is simply being used as a negotiating pawn for the Trades and Labour Council. I do not mind political games being played, and I can understand why the Trades and Labour Council would think it was quite funny if the Assembly today passed a motion saying that we have to have a whole-of-government approach. It is like saying to the Government, "Go away; we simply cannot negotiate on your terms anymore". It would give them a very good negotiating position for the meeting tomorrow. But that is not what this Assembly should be doing.

The negotiating approach that is going on at the moment is the same sort of approach that is being adopted in all other States and Territories, and federally as well. I believe that the first thing we have to look at is the ACT public service. Is it homogeneous? Are the services that are being provided the same right across the board? Are the workplaces that we have across the ACT Government the same? The obvious answer is no, they are not. We have a unique style of government here, a government that includes municipal services, quite traditional policy areas, hospitals and schools. We have workplaces that vary as much as workplaces can ever vary. Therefore, the requirements of people in the workplace to make their workplace efficient, to improve the outcomes, to give taxpayers better services for their dollar and to improve services will vary quite dramatically.

What you need to have an efficient hospital, to have a patient orientated hospital, to have one that treats patients with compassion and in an environment that is appropriate is totally different, obviously, from what you need in a Cabinet office. One of them is a 24-hour service, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is a service that operates on a critical care model, on a medical model, in many circumstances. So what we need at our hospital in enterprise bargaining terms is fundamentally different from what I require in a Cabinet office or in the Chief Minister's Department. I think that goes without saying.

What we are suggesting is exactly what the Federal Labor Government has put on the table and what is happening in every other State. We look not at a homogeneous group of enterprises but at the actual enterprise that we are and the services that we are trying to provide, and consider how we come up with an agreement that is service orientated,

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