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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (20 October) . . Page.. 3391 ..

MS TUCKER: If what I say provokes interjections, I am not going to suddenly not speak. It is up to them if they want to interject. Obviously, we can have a discussion about what are core duties and what are not, and I am quite happy to do that, but I do not think that is the point of the debate. The point of the debate is that we have been told that Mr Berry is asking the Assembly to break the law by supporting this motion when the Government arguably has equally broken the law if we apply those standards.

There is also disagreement about whether or not the bursars were stood down. If the bursars were not getting their pay, then I guess they had been stood down. I do not understand how you can argue otherwise and say now that those were lost work hours because these bursars were not working. If the bursars were not being paid then obviously they could not work.

There are some other issues around this that I would like to raise generally about what Peter Reith's so-called reforms are doing. I was interested in something that came across by email from the ACTU recently. It is an analysis of what is happening to women workers under Reith. Why this is important to raise in this debate, I think, is because we have seen quite different treatment in a way for the firemen and the nurses and this group of women working as bursars. What people have always said about Reith's so-called reforms is that the industrially weak will suffer. Many women are in occupations which do not give them industrial strength. Nurses are probably an exception. This is a quote from this release from the ACTU:

Most women workers are clustered in a few industries and occupations. These include retail, health and community services, clerical and sales.

"These industries and jobs are amongst the lowest paid in the community and workers in them are dependent on award rates, because they do not have bargaining power.

"More than a million working women are dependent on awards to set minimum employment standards. Half of all part-time women workers, and one in five full-time women workers do not have agreements with their employers," she said.

Nor are they paid over-awards which are generally set unilaterally by employers and are based on traditional notions of skill and merit which can seriously disadvantage women workers.

Recent ABS statistics reveal that in 1998 women earned only 43.7 per cent of the over-award payments paid to men, compared to 48.1 per cent in 1996. De-regulating the bargaining process is likely to see that gap continue to increase.

Even comparing base award or certified agreement wage rates, full time non-managerial women earned less - 90.6 per cent - of their male counterparts in 1998. It is of concern that this gap is growing. In 1996,

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