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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (20 October) . . Page.. 3389 ..

MS CARNELL: I come back to this, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker: How could Ms Tucker, who was really happy to support the Labor Party on allegations and motions in this place on the basis that somebody in my department inadvertently may have contravened a particular bit of the Financial Management Act, turn around now and support this motion which requires the Government to knowingly break the law? It is absolutely remarkable that we could have debated this for more than three minutes in this place. It is absolutely remarkable that those opposite let Mr Berry put this motion on the notice paper because it totally undermines everything that those opposite have said about the whole Financial Management Act issue. It totally undermines their joint credibility and it does show the level of hypocrisy that exists in this place. The financial management issue was a purely political go by the Opposition, and, boy, does this prove it.

What this motion does categorically, according to Phillip Mitchell, is require the Government to do something that would contravene a piece of legislation - nothing more, nothing less. We simply cannot support it. I will finish by making just one more comment. If the Assembly does support it, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I will not comply.

MS TUCKER (4.15): Well, I cannot agree with a couple of things the Chief Minister said. First of all, I was not happy supporting the Labor motion in relation to the Financial Management Act. I will correct that. I actually found it very difficult. Secondly, it is not quite as simple as Mrs Carnell is trying to paint it, as far as I can work out, although it might be convenient for their arguments to try to present it as a simple statement of fact. That particular subsection says:

(1) An employer must not make a payment to an employee in relation to a period during which the employee engaged, or engages, in industrial action if: ...

We all know there are a number of circumstances outlined there. We know that subsection (3) says:

A contravention of subsection (1) or (2) is not an offence.

It is interesting that subsection (3) is there. One has to ask why. It looks as though it must be about allowing some flexibility in how this particular section is interpreted.

In the break I have spoken to some legal people. I have spoken to Mr Moore's office and Mr Humphries' office about how you can, in government, not respect this in some circumstances, because clearly the nurses and the fire people were getting paid and they were involved in industrial action. The explanation that was given to me by both offices was that it was because those two groups of workers were still doing their core duties. Currently, I understand that nurses are still participating in some kind of boundaries operation or whatever they call it around their work. They are participating in some kind of industrial response anyway. It is happening now as we speak, so it is not past tense.

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