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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 2645 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

He said that it was not surprising that the unions would react strongly to it. Clearly, Mr Berry's first reaction to your proposal is negative, and I presume that that would reflect the knee-jerk reaction of the unions as well. Who, in your opinion, will be the winners and the losers if the unions reject this proposal?

MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Mr Kaine for his supplementary question. Mr Kaine, one thing I have learnt in this place is that if Mr Berry disagrees with you it must be a good idea. We all remember VITAB. That was the great deal that had to happen. In answer to your question, Mr Kaine, I say that the approach that this Government has taken has not been out of left field and it has not been out of right field. It is the approach that every other State and Federal government, either Liberal or Labor, has taken throughout the past 12 months. In other words, here is the Government's agenda, up front, on the table, no strings attached. In this instance it is $7 per week average per employee, starting next payday. There are no strings attached and no productivity to counter things at all. There is to be an increase of 3.9 per cent over 21/2 years. We have said, "If you want any more than 3.9 per cent, let us discuss it on an agency level and we can talk about that as well".

This Government said to the unions as far back as August, "Here are the cards on the table, up front. Come back with what you think of it". The unions initially took six weeks to respond to the Government. There are a couple of unions, particularly the CPSU and Ms Garvan, who disagree with this concept. Ms Garvan ought to get realistic, talk to her Federal colleagues and not say to her members, "We will continue to adopt a political campaign and deny you $7 per week, no strings attached". If Ms Garvan can sell that to the unions, jolly good luck to her. The role of this Government is to protect the interests of the people of the ACT. We will continue to do so. We will continue to stand firm on this action, notwithstanding the gun that is held to our head.

Education Funding - Teacher Positions

MR BERRY: Where is your big hat that all the other cowboys have? Mr Speaker, my question is addressed to Mr Stefaniak, the Minister for Education. I ask the Minister to explain why the Government is planning to remove 50 teaching positions in the next 30 months.

MR STEFANIAK: I suppose I should expect that from Mr Berry, Mr Speaker. I think he has completely misunderstood the situation. Mr Berry, as you are aware, there is a new enterprise bargaining agreement which will be negotiated between the Department of Education and Training and the unions. The AEU has made comments about the possible loss of 50 teaching positions through enterprise bargaining and has attempted to link this with the budget. I would say that that is simply scaremongering. The existing enterprise bargaining agreement with the AEU ends on 31 December this year. It is appropriate that negotiations under the new agreement get under way.

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