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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 753 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Speaker, we then get to the amendment. I move the amendment circulated in my name which reads as follows:

After the words "to axe" add "without the approval of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission".

Mr Speaker, this is about allowing the current process to continue. It is the same process that Labor acted under when they were in government. We believe it appropriate that we be allowed to do this as well. This is about industrial democracy. It is about how the employer and the employees can both go to the AIRC. What Mr Berry's motion would suggest is that the ACT government not be allowed to do so. This is about following the process, and it is a process that has been agreed to over a long time by both Liberal and Labor.

What we do today is set a precedent that says that the Assembly will actually tell the ACT public service. Those opposite will set a precedent today if this motion gets up unamended that says we will now set the terms and conditions on every job in the ACT public service. That is rightly something for the CEOs to administer in their departments, while the government determines the policy.

Mr Speaker, we have a dilemma with ACT Forests in that it is not competitive. It is time to appropriately address that dilemma. Part of it is the restructuring that unfortunately means some jobs will go. But we have a process in place, a very generous package as against the FISAP package that was agreed to by unions, the Trades and Labour Council and the Labor government in New South Wales. It is far more generous than anything that has ever been offered in the ACT. With the amendment, the government can support Mr Berry's motion.

MR HARGREAVES (12.10): Mr Speaker, I want to make a couple of comments about the 20 people who are going to get it in the neck from this government. We are talking about some of the lower paid members of the work force, and probably the most powerless members of the work force.

We do not have a thriving forestry industry in the ACT along the same scale as there is interstate, so the ability of people to trade in another part of their industry is considerably diminished. In other words, Mr Speaker, the chance of somebody being able to be placed elsewhere within the service is somewhat limited. One of the difficulties with people who work in forestry is placing them. We could say that they have skills we can use elsewhere, say in CityScape, but we know what happened to the workers in CityScape when the competitive edge was brought into that part of the government service. CityScape lost half of the contracts south of the lake. There is another contract up for grabs at the moment in Tuggeranong, and if I was a betting man I would bet that that one goes to the private sector as well with a resultant loss of jobs.

So what happens when these people get the axe? They go to the careers assistance unit. I do not know whether Mr Kaine and Mr Rugendyke have looked into it, but the careers assistance unit does quite a lot of good work and it does try to give people other skills that they can sell in the marketplace. But imagine, if you will, Mr Speaker, a man who has spent 30 years on the business end of a chainsaw being given numeracy and literacy

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