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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 446 ..

Mr Berry: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I thought you were going to put the brakes on things about the Federal election. It does not apply to your mates?

MR SPEAKER: Unfortunately, this is the adjournment debate.

Mr Berry: So you are not going to put the brakes on?

MR SPEAKER: You can talk about any matter you like in the adjournment debate.

MR HIRD: Thank you, Mr Speaker - and wisely ruled, too. There were 4,160 bankruptcies in the December quarter of last year. I make the point that personal bankruptcies this financial year will reach 16,000 - that is, 44 small businesses going into bankruptcy each day in Australia. Shame!

Industrial Relations

MR BERRY (5.24): I want to talk about the prospects of ordinary Australians under the industrial relations regime proposed by the Federal Liberal Party. That is the regime we have seen in place in the ACT under Mrs Carnell's management: Lock out the workers, police intervention, a whole range of public relations statements about an industrial dispute that really ought to have been negotiated instead of screeching at the workers.

One of the most important things we have to preserve for the future of Australians is the independence of the umpire. John Howard has made it clear that the umpire will have his teeth withdrawn and there will be a very weak arrangement put in place for the protection of workers. Workers in Australia are extremely concerned about the approach that would be taken by a Federal Liberal government. I am pleased to see that even young people from Dickson College recognised that it was an issue of concern for them, and so it ought to be. It is the youngsters who are going to be affected most by this, because they are usually in the weakest position in the workplace. If they do not have a satisfactory industrial relations system in place, they are the first people to be exploited.

It has long been the view of the Liberal Party that the best way to get more people employed is to lower the wages of others. That might sound very nice to the conservatives and economic rationalists in our community, but it does not augur well for social justice or for better living standards for ordinary Australians, particularly our youngsters. I rise briefly in this place to comment on those issues because it is a matter of concern to me and to the Labor Party nationally that these are the sorts of policies Mr Howard is promoting, which may be inflicted on the people of the ACT if we are left in the unfortunate circumstance of a Liberal win next Saturday.

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