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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1384 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

If you are knocked back because you grant wage rises that are too small, do you want to keep getting knocked back or do you start to learn the lessons, and start to give people more generous pay rises? And the reverse situation also applies. What is the point of having a tribunal in those circumstances? It would be more honest, I think, of Ms Tucker to propose that the tribunal be dispensed with altogether with respect to decisions affecting members of this place, or indeed affecting any statutory office holders in this place, and require that an Assembly committee considers these matters, and makes recommendations to the Assembly that the Assembly then approves.

Or perhaps she should propose that ministers make disallowable instruments, and that they be tabled on the floor of this place. It would be an entirely political process. I have to say that the overpowering impression I have is that Ms Tucker has reacted to very venal popular political concerns about the pay that members of this place receive, and has decided to exploit that concern by saying, "Yes, I am standing up for the poor little tax payer, who does not want to have to pay these fabulous salaries to members of the Assembly, or other people sponging off the public purse. And yes, I, Kerrie Tucker, will stand up for you and I will hand back the wages that are being given to us overgenerously by this foolhardy Remuneration Tribunal."

We all play politics on occasions. I do not pretend to be any angel on that score, but I think that we ought to recognise this process for what it is. Ms Tucker wishes to grandstand about this matter. She should feel free to do so, but I suggest she does so without the cooperation or support of other members of this place.

Everybody in this place, in their heart of hearts-and I include Ms Tucker in this-knows that it is fundamentally better to have these decisions made by people who are independent of political processes. I invite members to respond to that sentiment accordingly by voting against this legislation.

MR BERRY (5.05): It is rare that I disagree with Ms Tucker. We are soul mates on many things. The only difference is that I am greener than she is.

I disagree with Mr Humphries' assessment of Ms Tucker's motives. I can see how you could come to a position such as this. My concern about pay rises for politicians here goes back to the most recent pay round for public servants. At the same time as public servants were getting poor pay results, the Remuneration Tribunal was awarding very good pay results to the executive and other members in this place.

I must say that I felt uneasy about that at the time myself. A natural reaction is to try to fix the problem by going after something that you have some control over, and that is the Remuneration Tribunal.

Now, I take the view that the government's response to the union's claims for pay rises was very unfair. It was unfair because the government encouraged or agreed with the Remuneration Tribunal's assessment of the claimants' worth on the basis of the old and often used-it has been around for a long time and I say old, not because it is a bad approach, but because it has been less popular in recent times-comparative wage justice.

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