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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1681 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The Estimates Committee made the point that a good employer, a caring employer, would not leave its employees in a situation of not knowing how many of them are for the chop. It was a very reasonable point for the committee to make that, in a service such as the ACT Public Service, workers have a right to know what the Government's intentions are in relation to redundancies - we now call them movements. The Government has basically dismissed that with some mumbo jumbo about how the development of budgets is an administrative process well established in the public sector, et cetera - reducing job losses to the need to have some formal structure to the development of budgets.

I think there is food for thought there, and for a subsequent debate, Mr Speaker, in relation to the Government's dismissive attitude to the rights of its workers in an age of extreme insecurity for people, particularly in this town, having regard to the recession which was forced on us by the Government's Federal mentors. In this town there is an incredibly high level of insecurity around jobs.

Everywhere I go people tell me that the No. 1 issue that causes them fright, distress, that puts enormous pressure on their families, is not knowing whether or not they are going to have a job this time next year. I think the Government's complete disinclination to come to terms with that issue - and it is not a laughing matter; it is a very serious matter - in this report is a very worrying aspect of the Government's response to the very sensible suggestions which the Estimates Committee made.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (5.50): Just for the record, Mr Speaker, the Chief Minister and I were laughing about the irony of Mr Stanhope making remarks about job security. It seemed rather funny to us under the circumstances. I rise to make a brief observation about the comments of Mr Berry a little earlier in this debate. Mr Berry raised some comments that he and Mr Corbell had made in their dissenting report concerning the Chief Minister and links with the Pharmacy Guild and FAI Insurance - the usual bit of muck that gets thrown by Mr Berry regularly in this place.

Mr Speaker, I particularly want the Leader of Opposition to take note of those comments because he rose in this place - I am talking about Mr Stanhope, the Leader of the Opposition - when he first became leader and stoutly defended poor Mr Berry who had been subject to such slurs during the recent election campaign; Mr Berry was just doing his job and had all sorts of terrible personality-based comments made about him in the recent campaign, horrible things like a sticker saying, "Do not Berry Canberra". There were suggestions that Mr Berry was not competent to manage the finances of the Territory, given his "Working Capital" fiasco - things like that.

Now, he defended Mr Berry in the face of those sorts of comments, yet he sat back calmly while Mr Berry, so-called lilywhite Mr Berry, hurled another piece of muck. It is the usual thing for Mr Berry. Every year in this place we get the usual sort of muck. We get unsubstantiated claims about corruption - that is what it amounts to. Mr Stanhope, how can you sit there and attack suggestions that Mr Berry was a bad financial manager as a terrible slur on an innocent man, yet say that what he has just said about the Chief Minister was okay? Does that not strike you as a double standard, Mr Stanhope? It does me, Mr Speaker.

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