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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 431 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

6. Non Government advertising must be related to staff's employment and/or remuneration, including benefits for staff utilising specific services/products.

Let us look a little closer at point 6-"Non Government advertising must be related to staff's employment and/or remuneration". I would have thought this message from the ANF absolutely and directly relates to staff's employment and/or remuneration. Strangely, that does not always apply to other messages approved by government and inserted on pay slips. "Get started in the share market for $29.95". Is the government suggesting that staff employment is linked to participation in the stock market-that union representation is not acceptable but that playing on the stock market is to be encouraged? Another example is leasing and business finance. Is the government advocating that its employees operate private businesses, leasing premises and vehicles on the side, and focus their aspirations on the private sector?

Even quality, self-contained apartments and townhouses with views of Merimbula Lakes got a run on government pay slips. Perhaps the government is looking to relocate some of our government functions to the coast-CTEC, for example-or is it hoping that if its employees get to have a nice coastal holiday they will not expect to be paid so much? Obviously, the ANF message complied more perfectly with the government guidelines than these private business promotions did, yet its message was refused.

In our search for the real rationale behind this decision, let us look at point 5-"to treat all potential advertisers equally, providing all areas of the market the opportunity to access the facility". We have seen that some aspects of the market, such as financial management, financial speculation and coastal villas are all doing well. It could be that in the government's view unions generically are not part of the market. The market can include almost anything but never a union.

I have a copy of union related messages from 1998 and 1997, so if this is the government's view it is a fairly recent one. One of these messages related to an EBA meeting, so evidently it was not at the time a question of a union promotion during an industrial dispute. The only aspect of the guidelines that might explain the government's decision is point one-"material will be carefully vetted to ensure that the material is appropriate and there is no conflict with government policies, programs or activities". Does the government indeed have a policy or program to oppose vigorous representation for employees? Is the government saying that a union ought never vigorously represent employees but merely facilitate government activity?

Is it the case then that government policy and programs support playing around with the stock market but conflict with the representation of employees? Is it that the government is opposed to unions encouraging employees to join or encouraging non-union employees to contribute towards having their interests represented, or is it simply that the government resents the fact that the union is not cooperating over the Canberra Hospital and so petulantly refuses to allow it to use pay slip advertising as almost any other body or organisation is permitted to do?

MR BERRY (5.34), in reply: Having listened to the debate, I have to say that Mr Humphries' contribution was less than convincing. It was one of his less convincing performances.

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