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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2104 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

One issue that has come up is whether or not in the ACT we can afford to allow major initiatives such as the privatisation or contracting out of bus services to progress without this Assembly having had a say in the decision. That is why I put this motion up. Mrs Carnell's amendment, which very unfortunately got up, has basically given the message to the community, and to the private sector interestingly enough, that this Government feels that they can call for expressions of interest, analyse them, do work and no doubt spend quite a lot of taxpayers' money on progressing the whole possibility of the privatisation or contracting out of the bus services.

We are going to allow that money to be spent - taxpayers' money, which we keep hearing we have to be very careful with - on this particular policy initiative before this minority Government has the support of this Assembly to progress that particular initiative and before the community has had an opportunity to lobby members of this place about whether or not that is a move they would like to see progressed and whether or not they think the Government should do it. I find it very hypocritical that a government that spends so much time saying they want to be careful with taxpayers' money is prepared to do this work without having first come to the Assembly. I think Mr Osborne has made a mistake in supporting the amendment. It does no credit to his claims of financial responsibility. We need to have the debate first, and the community needs to have input as well.

In the debate, Mrs Carnell misrepresented what I said, which she often does. She said that I want to support the most expensive bus service in Australia. I am really happy to read out again for Mrs Carnell, if she was not listening, what I actually said in my speech regarding the industrial processes. Basically what I said is that the industrial process is not just something that should be followed. It is a legislative requirement - a framework that was developed by the current Federal Liberal Government no less. It is appalling that we are forced to call on the Government to abide by legislation. I am sure that there are many improvements that can be made to the ACTION network, and I understand that ACTION and the Government may have differing views from drivers and the Transport Workers Union. What concerns me is the willingness of Mr Smyth to give up, citing privatisation as the only option. I believe that the Transport Workers Union were willing to sign an agreement but were not willing to endorse different, and reduced, conditions for new staff. This would have created a de facto work force. ACTION members found it unfair that they were voting for conditions for workers to be employed in the future, which conditions currently did not exist. I also understand that they want to continue negotiations. That is what I said. I have just said it again so it will be quite clear.

We now understand that 20 of the 22 conditions have been agreed to by the Transport Workers Union. In fact, I think the other two have been sorted out as well. That is why it is so surprising that Mr Humphries is still talking about split shifts and the reluctance of drivers to take them on. I understand that they have accepted them. I do not know whether Mr Humphries is talking to Mr Smyth or who is talking to whom. At no time have I said that we have to support the most expensive bus drivers in Australia. What I am saying is: Let us work with the processes as they exist and as they are enshrined in law.

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