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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 1 Hansard (21 February) . . Page.. 98 ..

An incident having occurred in the gallery -

MR SPEAKER: Clear the gallery.

Mr Moore: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I suggest that it would be far more appropriate to suspend the sitting for some time.

MR SPEAKER: I think that is probably the best thing that I can do. The sitting will be suspended until further notice.

Sitting suspended from 10.58 to 11.30 am

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, before the suspension of the sitting I was making the point that this particular policy of the ACT Government is something that has been in place for a very long time. In fact, I would like to table a letter from me to Cath Garvan of 19 December 1994 - a long time before we took government - stating exactly this policy and that the Liberal Party was about choice and was about giving unionists an opportunity to determine whether or not they wanted payroll deductions. Any indication from Mr Berry or any innuendo from Mr Berry suggesting for one moment that this was something to do with the current industrial dispute is simply wrong. It is very much an approach that this Government and the Liberal Party have taken for a very long period of time.

One of the most interesting things about this situation is that it seems that there is a clear convergence of views between Government policy and the CPSU. The CPSU has been trying for a quite long period of time now to put in place new arrangements for deductions of union fees from payroll or different ways for unionists to pay their union fees. I would also like to table a CPSU letter - it is a Northern Territory letter - which does exactly that; it suggests to its members that there is a need for them to go to direct deductions or to use other forms of payment of union fees such as EFTPOS. It is interesting that even in the ACT the CPSU has been trying to encourage members to move away from direct deduction - as I said, for a long time before this current dispute started. To suggest for one moment that this had anything to do with the current dispute is simply wrong.

We, as a government, are always willing to take what we believe is a prudent approach to industrial democracy, and I think that is a real hallmark of this Government. Our view is simple and is very clear. We believe that unionists should have a choice in this area; we believe that we should go to an opt-in approach rather than an opt-out approach. But in the interests of industrial democracy, in the interests of attempting to come to a solution to this whole industrial situation, we determined that we would withdraw this requirement. That was done. If members do not already have the memo that went out, I table the memo, for everybody's interest. Again, the Liberal Party believes strongly that union fees should be an opt-in approach rather than an opt-out approach. But to show our good faith in this whole dispute we initially withdrew the requirement for 12-monthly - - -

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