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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (17 April) . . Page.. 1001 ..

Public Service - Enterprise Bargaining

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, my question is directed to the Chief Minister, as the Minister in charge of industrial relations. Chief Minister, over the last month you have claimed success in negotiations with unions in the ACT government service. You have claimed that your policies have delivered pay rises to public servants and offsets for your budget. Repeatedly we have heard about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for workers. You have claimed that your policy of negotiating with individual unions - and that was the emphasis, rather than workplace negotiation - was a success. Then you admitted, of course, that you had to rewrite the agreements. According to you, that was to get them ratified in the Industrial Relations Commission. Yesterday, in the commission, it was revealed that the rewriting of the agreements will mean that you will renege on your commitments. Is the ACT community threatened with more revenue losses and industrial chaos as a result of your incompetence and doublespeak?

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, the only way in which the ACT residents and taxpayers would be faced with that would be as a result of Mr Berry's bloody stupid questions - I withdraw the word "bloody". Mr Speaker, the Government stands firm on the basis of the agreements that we have entered into. We stand firm on every item involved in those agreements that we have done on a union-by-union basis. We believe that they do show the way ahead for the ACT. Yes, they are able to be achieved within our current budget projections over the next two years, and hopefully beyond that. Yes, they do have productivity measures in them. Yes, they are productivity measures that must be delivered before they are paid - unlike the agreements that the previous Government entered into, very close to the last election, with productivity elements that did not have to be delivered at all, and so what we ended up with was budget overruns in Education and Health, totally attributable to those opposite. They do not even care. Mr Berry is just having a laugh about it.

The reality is that these agreements will require productivity measures to be delivered prior to their being paid. We can afford to pay for them within our current budget estimates. Yes, the Government does stick by them. Possibly Mr Berry, in his supplementary question, might like to let this Assembly know whether he supports - this is totally out of order, Mr Speaker; I am very well aware of that - - -

MR SPEAKER: It is indeed. I was about to comment on that.

MRS CARNELL: What I would request from this Assembly, and from Mr Berry in particular, is an absolute commitment from those opposite to support us in our efforts to have the current agreements ratified.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Mrs Carnell will get the chance to ask us questions when she is in opposition. Mrs Carnell, one example of the double-dealing in this whole industrial dispute is where your people agreed to a $65 per week increase in the base rate of some of the lowest paid workers in the ACT and where you have now reneged on that agreement and cut it to $50.

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