Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 420 ..
Union Request to Meet Minister for Justice and Community Safety
MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr Humphries in his capacity as Minister for Justice and Community Safety. Is the Minister aware of the claim by the CPSU in a media release yesterday that he has refused to meet with the union to discuss the debate about the prison and the current situation at the Belconnen Remand Centre? Minister, is it true that you have refused to meet with the CPSU?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Hird for that question. I was a little bit shocked when I saw the report in the media that I had refused to meet with the union. Although I do not always agree with unions, I do make myself reasonably available to discuss issues with them. In fact, I consider myself as having a good relationship with a number of unions that represent employees within my portfolio. I was a bit distressed by the claim that Mr Hird has referred to. The release the CPSU issued on Saturday or Sunday says:
Attempts to meet with the Minister and discuss the situation -
that is the situation at BRC and the proposal for a new prison -
I checked with my office and my department about how it came to be that I had failed to respond to a request from the union for a discussion. That indication of concern was not allayed when I discovered that in fact there was no record anywhere in my office of there being any request by the CPSU for a meeting with them.
Mr Smyth: That is strange.
MR HUMPHRIES: It is very strange indeed. I from time to time run into members of that union. I saw Mr Gooden a few months ago and exchanged a few pleasantries with him. There was no reference then to any request for a meeting. So I was a bit puzzled. Then all was revealed. At 6 o'clock last night, just before the news went to air, a request came through from Ms Jennifer Eccles, the branch secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union. I do not know what those opposite are laughing at, Mr Speaker.
Mr Stanhope: There was not much to laugh at. We admit that.
MR HUMPHRIES: It does not take much to make you laugh, does it?
Mr Smyth: They are easily amused by the antics of the union.
MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed. I suspect they are as amused by the antics of the CPSU as we are, Mr Speaker. It transpires that the request was made not on the weekend, at the time the claim was made that there was no success in getting to meet with the Minister. In fact, it was only at 6 o'clock last night that the request was made. The union having told people that they had failed in attempts to meet the Minister, it turns out that they failed to put the letter into the fax machine or failed to attach the postage stamp to the