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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 742 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The import of this motion is about redeployment and that redeployment in this case must be part of the process. Mr Kaine referred to this process as being out of step with the modern world. A lot of the precepts of the modern world are now under challenge. The concept of wholesale outsourcing is now under challenge. The concept of perfect markets whereby pure economics should govern every decision we take is under severe challenge because we know-we will probably talk later about oil companies-that pure economic rationalism is not the total case and should not be applied without some consideration of the people directly involved.

I have to say that I do hope that extracts of Hansard incorporating the derision that was such a feature of the Chief Minister's comments will get out. I do hope that Hansard picked up some of the interjections made about violins, et cetera, while Mr Berry was speaking. I think that it would make interesting reading for the people directly involved and for other people within the ACT public service just to know the caring nature of our Chief Minister.

I am not sure, but towards the end of what he said I did detect some softening of the attitude. It may be that he also has a view to an election, something he accused Mr Berry of having, but I have to say that everything I have seen and heard from the Chief Minister in recent times has had nothing else in mind but an upcoming election and that, at least occasionally on the Chief Minister's part, is a recognition that the people will have a say from time to time.

This motion is purely about there being no involuntary redundancies. It is about the responsibility of an employer to find alternative work for people that have served long and faithfully. I do not think that that should be beyond our capability. If it is, I think it is a sad commentary on the administration the Chief Minister heads.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (11.26): Mr Speaker, I noted with interest the comments made by Mr Kaine, and I think they are very pertinent to this debate. It is a sad fact of life that with globalisation, with the world moving on, situations have changed, and people are affected by that.

I want to deal with a number of matters, Mr Speaker. The action that the government has decided to take on ACT Forests has been carefully considered. It has been based on sound information and reasoning. Let me explain.

Over the last 10 years ACT Forests has been making a loss and, unless something is done, losses will continue for at least another five years. They are not insubstantial losses. There have been two separate independent consultancies, and a report by the Auditor-General as well, and all concluded that something must be done, and done now. An option for the government, based on the conclusions of the consultants, was to divest itself of complete or partial ownership of the business. The government carefully considered this and decided on a less drastic approach, one that protects the jobs of many workers in that industry.

The government is aware of the fact that ACT Forests' output of logs is a crucial input to local forest industries. The industries employ some 370 people. If our forests are not an efficient and sustainable operation, then those jobs and those businesses are at risk in the highly competitive, globalised plantation timber market.

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