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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 69 ..

MR BERRY: The University of Sydney. Expert advice suggests that they will not. Mr Deputy Speaker, this anti-union lot over here seek only to drive the union movement out of the workplace. They should also take a little look at the Workplace Relations Act when they are considering these things and in particular they should take note of the section which refers to Australian workplace agreements. People have to agree to enter into an Australian workplace agreement. Such an agreement cannot be forced on them. I think this government has made it clear that AWAs are going to be part of the workplace whether public servants like it or not.

Mr Deputy Speaker, this plan will lead to an even bigger gap between the salaries in the ACT public service and other public sectors, and in particular the Commonwealth public sector. We are already well behind the Commonwealth public sector when it comes to wages and working conditions.

Mr Humphries: That is why I am seeking reward but not fatness.

MR BERRY: Mr Humphries interjects that that is why he is seeking a reward but not fatness. Is he suggesting that the Commonwealth public service pay levels would lead to fatness? The facts of the matter are that the public service in the ACT will always be affected by the wage and salary conditions in the Commonwealth public service. For example, if you were working as a senior manager or senior officer in the Chief Minister's Department and you knew from the figures that the ACT public service was shrinking, why would you not accept a similar position in the Commonwealth paying $3,000 or $4,000 more a year if one became available? There is no reason why you would not do that. So, unless comparatively fair levels of wages and conditions are applied in the ACT public service, the leakage of quality public servants to the Commonwealth public sector is always going to present a difficulty for us in respect of providing a quality public administration.

There are examples of the government already agreeing to adopt this course. One of the reasons why the failed offer to nurses was made was to make it more attractive for nurses to come here because it was difficult to recruit. It was also one of the elements, as I recall, in the government's forming the view that it had to give teachers a reasonable pay rise otherwise they would be losing them across the border. This is not a business, this is a public service, so you do not exploit your workers to the fullest extent just to ensure that your profits increase. This is about providing a service to the community and a competitive wage market will be required if you are going to keep the best professional public servants in the ACT.

Why is it that the government thinks its secret Australian workplace agreements, with disciplinary wage regression as the stick built into them, are going to contribute to that? You will have the carrot on the one hand, where they can get a bonus if they behave correctly and in the way that the government wants them to, or, on the other hand, a stick if they do not-they will arbitrarily lose money if they do not perform well, in accordance with some secret wage agreement.

How the government can rely on those sorts of ridiculous propositions in the real world is beyond comprehension. Professional public servants ought to be paid what they are worth, no more or less. They do not need hidden performance bonuses to get

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