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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1779 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

Listen to this, Chief Minister, and deny it:

The current enterprise agreements requires union agreement to anything other than voluntary redundancies and we propose to put that same clause in the new agreements.

So do not be disingenuous with us. Do not try to kid us. Do not try to treat us as if we came down in the last shower. It is your intention to breach the promise that you made to the unions in the lead-up to the last election.

I make the point again: This is about the standing of the Government, the integrity of the Government, the honesty of the Government, and whether it can be taken at its word. Clearly, the Government has shown on many occasions that it cannot. This is another example of that. It is extremely important for workers in the ACT Public Service that job security be held high as a priority for both parties in relation to the enterprise agreement arrangements which are being attempted, at least by the union, in relation to the new agreement. ACT public servants - 3,000 fewer now as a result of the last Carnell Government - are nervous about their job prospects, and they ought to be because, whilst the Chief Minister said before the last election, "Ah, the pain is over", we were able to discover in the Estimates Committee process that 271 jobs were planned to go in Health and Education already.

Although the Chief Minister refused to give us the proper levels of the prospective job cuts throughout other departments, it has been made clear that any pay rise under the enterprise agreements would have to come out of the budgets of the respective agencies and that would probably impact on jobs. The Chief Minister refused to tell us where these jobs would be cut, though it was clear, because some departments were more efficient than the Chief Minister's and were able to advise us without the information being covered up in the process. So, we have some agencies that tell us the jobs are going to be cut, and the Chief Minister refuses to tell us the overall position in relation to the ACT Public Service.

We know that more jobs are to go, we know that the pain is not over, and we know that the Government is about to renege on its promise to the unions. It is trying to worm out of it. You know, the good old weasel words - to worm its way out of the original agreement. We will hear the Chief Minister say in her speech in response, "Our preferred position is voluntary redundancies".

Ms Carnell: That is true.

MR BERRY: That is code, Chief Minister, but if you do not volunteer, it could get tougher after that. Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that 17,000 public servants took for granted the Chief Minister's promise before the last election that there would only be voluntary redundancies within the ACT Public Service. They took the Chief Minister at face value. Some would say that is a mistake. I certainly would. But many of those 17,000 would have done so and they are entitled to be treated with respect.

Ms Carnell: They are. I agree with that.

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