Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2057 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
Mr Speaker, it is quite curious that Mr Santi told Graham Downie of the Canberra Times that he had told the meeting that, should the members of the union reject the EBA that the Government had offered, it would leave them with no option but to tender out for the services. So, indeed, in going to an expression of interest, Mr Speaker, one could say that we are simply following Trevor Santi's advice that the Government had no further option. The TWU has rejected the EBA offer. That included pay rises and introducing the new network. Clearly, the union does not want the outcome that we have all been working so hard to achieve, Mr Speaker; that is, 20 per cent extra services for the people of Canberra.
Mr Hargreaves said that the Government is the one posturing here, the Government set this up and the Government did not want this to go ahead. But it is curious, Mr Speaker, that on 6 August Mr Hargreaves himself said in a press release:
Industrial action is looking imminent any time from 14 October, if the Government do not reach an agreement with the TWU within the next couple of weeks.
So it is quite clear that as far back as early August, Mr Speaker, they were not really genuine about this when it came to negotiations. The TWU was already gearing up, and they announced through their spokesperson, the shadow Minister for transport, that they were ready for industrial action after 14 October. Indeed, Mr Speaker, I have heard reports that at the AFL game played at Manuka Oval members of the union were saying that we would be in dispute before Christmas. This was even before a vote was taken, Mr Speaker.
The curious thing, Mr Speaker, is that on Monday a young lady phoned my office. She had attempted to buy a car on Saturday. She said that she went to purchase a car from a private vendor and, when she asked why the car was for sale, he said, "I am a bus driver. I am gearing up. I am cashing up for the big strike that is coming". We can talk about who is genuine here. Mr Speaker, the Government has been genuine. The Government, through Guy Thurston, has taken 14 months to come to an agreed position. Over that time we actually agreed to a number of points that the TWU wanted, which they rejected just over two weeks ago.
Mr Speaker, at the recent paid meeting - the second paid meeting - that they had to discuss these offers, the TWU rejected parts of the proposal that they themselves put forward. I think it is worth reading into the record some of Mr Santi's response to what has been put forward. It is quite interesting that three or four weeks ago I actually met with Guy Thurston and Mr Santi in my office, and Mr Santi shook my hand and said, "Basically you've got a deal". But let us have a look at what we put on the table and let us look at their reasons for rejecting it. It is quite interesting.
There were wage adjustments in the package, Mr Speaker. The reason for their rejection is curious. They said:
Members regard the wage increase as adequate, providing that there is a mechanism to re-negotiate further increases in the event of extraneous financial implications from the Asian monetary crisis - - -