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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2055 ..

Ms Carnell: Mr Speaker, I am happy to take that point of order. I just did not want to interrupt Mr Hargreaves. My point of order is that Mr Hargreaves is supposed to be addressing the Chair.

MR SPEAKER: I thank you and I uphold the point of order.

MR HARGREAVES: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, and indeed Mr Speaker. I would just ask the Chief Minister to go back to Hansard and count the times I did, in fact, address the Chair.

Mr Speaker, this Government has made an offer to the workers - the drivers, the mechanics, the upholsterers and a host of other tradespeople connected with ACTION - an offer that nobody in their right mind could accept. They sat back and waited until this happened and they said, "No. This is not fair". They advertised for expressions of interest. The coincidence of timing is absolutely amazing.

What we are seeing here is the destruction of a public service through the use of Patrick-style body companies to manage our "waterfront". But who are going to be the big casualties in this? It will not only be the bus drivers, the upholsterers, the mechanics, the electricians and all those guys; it will also be ACTION management. In any industrial arena, management and unions bash heads occasionally. That is fine, because that is part of the deal. But there is no reason why the ACTION management ought to be sacrificed on the altar of expediency, as this Government is doing. If they have, in fact, been able to negotiate a little bit closer to settlement with the union, why should they be hung out to dry for it? I do not accept that they should be.

This Government had already made up its mind. It was going to flick the ACTION service. This is the bit that absolutely floored me, Mr Speaker. I could not believe it when I saw this in the press. The Government intends to compare the expressions of interest with the negotiated settlement that ACTION management and the Transport Workers Union actually arrived at - with, I might say, Mr Speaker, the blessing of the Industrial Relations Commission. I cannot believe the duplicity in this.

Mr Speaker, I am calling on the Government to cease the process of evaluation of the tender and expressions of interest and accept that this is contrary action in an industrial dispute. It is, in fact, like waving a sword around and saying, "We are going to get the best deal out of this. We do not really care what you do". I think, if they want to create a decent industrial environment where we can have confidence in the outcome, they ought to stop this evaluation of the expressions of interest dead in its tracks and be honest about it. They should forget the expressions of interest and negotiate in good faith.

The Government needs to acknowledge that, in any industrial bargaining situation, ambit claims are put. Everybody does it, Mr Speaker. This is no different. The Government should not say, "Oh, well, we got an ambit claim from the Transport Workers Union. We are not going to accept that. We will sell you". Mr Speaker, when they do not get what they want, they should refer the matter to the IRC; not be dragged, kicking and screaming, to it. Mr Speaker, the Government has just bullyboyed its way through this. I think that it needs to stop, go back and be reasonable about it.

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