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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (20 October) . . Page.. 3404 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Some bursars did take industrial action. Again, that is their right, but certain consequences do flow from that in accordance with the Act. A government has a duty to uphold the law, and that is what occurred. The bursars had the right to take the action that they did; but, in accordance with the Act, the Government could not pay them, and that is what occurred.

In terms of the attention that they got, I think that the bursars conducted a very effective industrial campaign. It would not matter to me who it was; I would expect everyone to be treated equally regardless of whether they were part of a group of three or a group of 4,000. I do resent the comments Mr Berry made about picking on a small, defenceless group. I think that those comments were totally inappropriate. It is certainly something at which I take offence.

For the information of members, I will table the approved duty statement. Clearly, what happened was that the bursars were told that their principals would formally ask them whether they would perform their duties, including the normal preparation of school financial statements. Incidentally, that is in accordance with paragraph 1(b) of the duty statement. It is a fairly small duty statement. I do not know what document Mr Berry referred to, but that is the one and I table it.

The bursars were advised that, if the principals believed that they were failing to perform all of their duties as a result of industrial action, the principals would then advise them that they would be taken off pay until they advised that they were prepared to perform all the duties of the position. The period of no payment was to be considered to be a minimum of one day at a time. If they were taken off pay, they were advised that following their advice that they would perform all the duties, the principals would arrange that their pay be reinstated. I read out earlier in the debate how they were referred to section 187AA of the Act. So things were done in accordance with the Act.

I think that it is regrettable that some of the bursars actually went ahead and took industrial action and therefore, in accordance with the Act, were not paid. I am pleased that they do get some recognition from their union in terms of strike pay, but they took that action. Whilst it is regrettable that they did so, it was their right to do so. But Mr Berry's motion, as amended, makes absolutely no difference at all to the law and, quite clearly, the Government would be breaching the law were it to accede to Mr Berry's motion as amended.

Finally, for Mr Berry's benefit, I indicate that I have been advised by the Department of Work Relations and Small Business, the Federal department, that the enforcement of these provisions may occur through an application to the Federal Court by a Minister or another category of person, including "a person who has an interest in the matter", the latter being very broad.


(5.07): First of all, I will deal with some remarks that Mr Moore made earlier this morning. He tried to taunt me with some rhetoric about the doctors, asking me what I did when the doctors went out on strike. The doctors would claim that they never went out on strike; that their contracts ran out and they would not renew their

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