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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2098 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

They have learnt nothing from the past, unless of course it was never their intention to settle the industrial dispute and, as I argued this morning, I think quite correctly, it has always been their intention to privatise ACTION. This is a process of winding down the wages and working conditions of drivers and others at ACTION for ideological reasons. This is an ideological struggle between the conservatives and working-class people. They would deny that, but at the end of the day it is about taking wages and working conditions off workers.

What we want to see happen, and I am sure this is what Ms Tucker wants to see happen, is that the negotiation be free of this sort of silly threat. It was a threat that was intended to drive the Transport Workers Union to strike action or other confrontations, with a political outcome in mind. Thankfully, the Transport Workers Union saw what the Government was up to and did not respond to the very provocative actions of this silly Minister. This was a move designed to create confrontation, and it has failed. It should be ditched, and the message to this Government should be: "Get yourself round the table and negotiate an outcome without this sort of silly nonsense in the background".

It is irresponsible in the extreme to turn up the heat in the way that the Government has in relation to this matter. It is typical of the Liberals' attitude to industrial relations. We have seen some recent examples of that, particularly on the wharves, where Mr Smyth's chief training officer, Mr Reith, has been constantly turning up the heat. This is a failed strategy. It is not about gaining industrial peace and sensible outcomes for both bosses and workers. This is an ideological move which must be prevented. That is what Ms Tucker set out to do, and the Chief Minister's amendment seeks to give her carte blanche to proceed in the same way as she is, and it must be resisted.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak again, just to clarify my amendment.

Leave granted.

MS CARNELL: If my amendment was passed, the motion would read:

That the Government receive the support of the Assembly before privatisation of ACTION, the contracting of any part of ACTION services, or before giving approval to any other operators for the provision of regular scheduled public transport services in the ACT.

It makes it very clear that the Assembly would have to give approval before privatisation or the contracting of any services could take place.

MR BERRY: I seek leave to speak again too, Mr Speaker.

Leave granted.

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