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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 2916 ..

MR DE DOMENICO (continuing):

It is humbug for Mr Berry to come into this place today and criticise this Government for perhaps negotiating an enterprise agreement in one-third of the time that it took his Government to do the same. We waited for a long time for this wonderful blockbuster of an MPI, and it has gone down like a fizzer.

MS TUCKER (4.55): It has been disappointing for the Greens to witness this Government's approach to industrial relations. Many have put all the blame at the feet of the Minister for Industrial Relations; but, as the agenda for so-called industrial reform is being driven out of the Chief Minister's office, it seems the Chief Minister must shoulder some responsibility for the extraordinary manner in which this Government treats its employees.

This Government was prepared to threaten a fundamental right of all workers, albeit one that was brought in by the Federal Labor people. I acknowledge that. Our colleagues in the Labor Party here are supporting it, obviously. It is a right that has been hard won; it is the right to freely express views about conditions that people work under; it is the right to say, "We are not happy with how our employer is treating us, and we will seek appropriate mechanisms to improve those conditions".

This Government apparently believes that workers do not have these rights and that they should not be given an even chance. There is a very disturbing culture in the public service at the moment. Maybe you are not aware of it because you are not talking to people in perhaps lower positions in the public service. The point is that people are receiving in their e-mail a document which is basically saying, "Failure to correctly sign off duty is an offence and disciplinary action will be taken. It is inappropriate for your union to advise you to take action that is illegal". This kind of intimidation makes ordinary workers very uncomfortable. I have had people from the public service ringing me on quite innocent matters. They are now feeling anxious about calling the Greens at the Assembly, even though it is not about a political matter. If you are interested in the public service being constructive, this surely is not the way to go. If this is how managers manage in the Liberal Government, then we have grave concerns.

From my reading of industrial relations and the history of it, I see that industrial democracy has worked when people in a workplace feel fully informed and empowered; they are not going to be intimidated. The Government's role has to have a very negative effect on the overall culture of the workplace. We are happy to see now that there has been a way found to move forward. I am not sure whether it is, as Mr Berry says, the big stick from the Feds or whether it is that you realise that what you were doing was seen to be totally inappropriate by a majority of members in this place and in the community.

We have been hearing from Mr De Domenico about the very many meetings that he had with the unions. But to give a list of meetings and to say proudly how many there have been, when there has been no resolution or real movement forward during those meetings, does not say a great deal for the ability of either side perhaps to negotiate compromise positions. That is why I think that it is very interesting that we have been able to find this different position now which was reached so suddenly. If the people who were negotiating in these meetings in the past, particularly the Government, had come with a more conciliatory approach, then you might have made progress without having to have such harsh measures as occurred last week. You say that you do not feel that it is

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