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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1386 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

What I am anxious about is that the government does not mind this sort of arbitration by the Remuneration Tribunal for itself, but it does not like it for its workers. That is what makes me uncomfortable, and I suspect that is what makes Ms Tucker uncomfortable as well. I am pretty confident that Ms Tucker is not so shallow as to just use the disallowance powers to make a name for herself, as has been suggested by Mr Humphries. But I am concerned that, if we go down the path suggested by Ms Tucker, there could be others following in our tracks who would.

We are having an election soon, and it is pretty easy to leap up in this place and say, "I move that we disallow the salary increases to the executive." A whole heap of people would go, "Whoopee." It is a pretty shallow approach to the whole issue.

No. As you would expect from the Labor Party, we support the principle of a separate tribunal settling our wages. It is a sort of arbitration to which we can all make a contribution, if we wish, and it is settled at arm's length, as it should be. Labor will not be supporting Ms Tucker on this particular matter.

Neither will we be supporting the provisions about the qualifications of tribunal members. I think these provisions run the risk of thinning the ranks of people who might be available for those sorts of positions-people of experience-and we are particularly reluctant to go down that path. I think that, if we start on this path, it could get to a position in which, whenever there is an outcome from the tribunal, we might be attracted to the idea of changing the qualifications again, and so forth. I think there are lines that you cannot cross over.

But, again-and I do not want to be patronising-I can see why people are anxious about wage outcomes for politicians here, as compared to the wages and working conditions outcomes, because of the Reith legislation, for people in a weaker position out amongst the ACT workforce. And, of course, the government has wielded the Reith legislation with a firm hand. The results have shown up in the disarray in the health system now, because of the lack of a pay rise, and in the long and drawn-out festering dispute with the teachers in our school system, which was only settled when the government started to get the wobbles about its prospects in the next election.

Labor will not be supporting either of these concepts as set out in the legislation that is being proposed by Ms Tucker. It will be one of the rare circumstances seen by this Assembly in which we disagree with Ms Tucker on matters of principle.

MS TUCKER (5.15), in reply: I do not think I will even respond to Mr Humphries' comments about motivations. Basically, we know that this legislation already exists in the Commonwealth parliament. It is not something the Greens have invented and I wonder whether, if Mr Humphries goes into the federal parliament at some point, he will put up his own legislation to remove this abomination from the federal parliament's workings.

It is really about accountability and accountability for expenditure of public money, and it is very odd to me that the Remuneration Tribunal is not accountable for its decisions, even though these decisions affect the expenditure of public money. All I am doing is asking for the capacity for a disallowance. It has not happened in the federal government. People seem to be very frightened of it happening here, in some way. I think, if someone

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