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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1781 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

The central redundancy pool was very much part of the Follett-Berry Government. This Government has now moved past that approach and redundancies will now be funded from within the department, simply because the restructure is now largely complete.

The Government's policy has been, and remains, a preference for voluntary retirement where redeployment to another job is not possible within a reasonable timeframe. But, unlike the Opposition, we recognise the need for some flexibility in particular situations, so it is open to individual agencies to negotiate specific provisions through their EBA process. However, we are not advocating, and never have, the wholesale use of involuntary redundancies.

I have heard Mr Berry talk about this issue in the Estimates Committee, on radio and on television, Mr Speaker, and you could have been forgiven for suggesting, or for believing, as Mr Berry seemed to be putting it, that the Government is advocating some sort of deal where managers would zoom into offices and say, "You, you, you and you, out. Involuntary redundancy. You're gone". Mr Berry knows perfectly well that that is not how the triple R award works; nor is it what is being proposed in any terms. Mr Berry is very well aware that the triple R award, even if put in place in its totality, involves a very long process and gives all sorts of opportunities for redeployment or retraining. I understand that the general timeframes for the triple R award would normally be well in excess of 12 months, if not closer to 18 months. So it is not exactly a case of: "You, you and you, out the door. Thank you very much. You are gone".

What the Opposition seems not to understand at all is that it is the agencies that are negotiating new EBAs, not the Government, as should be the case. For members of this Assembly to try to dictate to the agencies how they should negotiate, what they should negotiate, and, most importantly, whom they should negotiate with, is totally unacceptable. What Mr Berry is saying here is that staff-based EBAs are not acceptable. That is what the union is saying. They know perfectly well that the Government has not moved away from allowing the unions to have veto power on full application of the triple R award in union-negotiated EBAs. What we are suggesting, and what we know to be the case from work that has already happened out in the agencies, is that in many circumstances staff are interested in negotiating their own EBAs without any particular union involvement.

Is this Assembly saying that that is not all right? Is this Assembly saying that we should support union-negotiated agreements only, that somehow the union should have a veto, that the union should have the last say with regard to the triple R award when it is not a union-negotiated agreement? I think that would be extraordinarily unfair. If a group of staff want to negotiate an agreement without union involvement, surely the union should not be involved. The union should not have veto power on application of the triple R award. It is that simple. Somebody else should in an agreement that is not union negotiated. That is what the proposal on the table is - that in non-union-negotiated awards an independent arbiter, obviously agreed to by the staff involved, would be the person who determined whether application of the triple R award was put in place.

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