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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2670 ..

MR HARGREAVES: I will not take very long. In the passage of time the Government has put on the table an offer to the firefighters which is appalling. The appalling nature of it will emerge later. Mr Speaker, this petition from over 17,000 signatories - around 10 per cent of the voting public of the ACT - is a very significant expression of confidence in our fire brigade and an expression of concern that they are not getting a fair go. Mr Speaker, all the firefighters really want is a fair go in their negotiations and a recognition of the valued contribution that they make. The time that it took to get that petition raised was lengthened by their involvement with the emergency in Sydney. It is crystal clear to me that the interstate people who brought our people in to help them out have the confidence in them that we ought to have.

Mr Speaker, the firefighters interstate have received an increase of about 10 per cent because they are recognised there for their worth. We do not recognise the worth of our own. Our firefighters have actually lost 21 positions over the last year. It is a productivity increase in anybody's language to expect the remainder of those people to perform at the same level of safety for our community. It is a farce just to stick to the letter of the law and say that a productivity increase has to follow pay rises and not recognise a productivity increase that has already been achieved. Secondly, with emergency services you have to be careful that the trade-offs being demanded do not affect community safety.

I urge the Government to take note of this petition from more than 17,000 people, which is an awful lot of people. Please take notice of it and come to the negotiating table with a reasonable offer to the firefighters.

Petition received.


MR RUGENDYKE (10.34): I present the Drugs of Dependence (Amendment) Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

I rise today to table an extremely important Bill - a Bill that awakens a forgotten tragedy in our city, a Bill that recognises the torment entrenched in our suburbs caused by the perceived acceptance of cannabis. Mr Speaker, I am not prepared to ignore the situation any longer. It is time for someone to stand up for the majority and call a spade a spade. The decriminalisation of cannabis in the ACT has been a disaster. What the Minister for Health, Michael Moore, imposed on our community in 1992 was always going to be a disaster. I have no doubt that the approach heralded by Mr Moore is the minority view. The average family out there does not want decriminalised cannabis laws. They do not want the perception to continue that cannabis is legal.

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