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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1783 ..

Mr Berry: That is true in the current one.

MS CARNELL: That is true in the current agreement. What we are suggesting in this particular EBA is that on union-negotiated agreements the unions have veto, but in terms of staff-negotiated agreements an independent entity, agreed to by the staff, can determine whether the full EBA is put in place.

Mr Berry: That is not what you said in your press release.


MS CARNELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think everybody in this place would agree that we must work at having the most efficient Public Service possible, with the most flexibility and the most ownership of their own workplaces. Mr Berry has continued, with those opposite, to try to wind back the clock to a situation where we had an all-of-ACT-Public-Service EBA, where we had the same EBA for nurses and teachers, and people who cut grass and people who work in Chief Minister's. That was a patently ridiculous situation, and one that we had quite a significant dispute over in 1995.

Agency-negotiated EBAs have worked very well over the last three years and we are now looking at a new set of EBAs which again will reflect the changing Public Service, and, I suppose, agreements that are exactly that - agreed outcomes, not decreed by this Assembly but agreed between the parties involved. Let us not say to our staff that they can only have union-negotiated agreements. Let us say to them that they can agree on their own EBA if they choose to because we have total faith in them to do so.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (3.42): I think that was the most amazing performance by the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister stood up with one intention and one intention alone - to engage in classic, old union bashing. There was no other theme than to bash the union. There was no attempt to discuss the motion. There was no attempt to own the statement included in the Chief Minister's press release. This motion deals with the Chief Minister's promise to the workers of the ACT. We have just been treated to the classic creation of a union bogey. I half expected the Chief Minister, during her tirade against the unions, to begin to accuse them all of being communists. I half expected some of the old red rag stuff that we used to get. It was an absolutely absurd attack on the unions. She was blaming everything on the unions; putting the unions up as a scapegoat. It was classic nonsense as a basis for getting out of the promise she made.

The promise the Chief Minister made to the CPSU in the election campaign is quite clear. The words are here for all to read. The words are in black and white. Mrs Carnell said:

The Carnell Government has always made it clear the Liberals will allow redundancies only if the workload goes. They have never supported job loss alone. 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.

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