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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1825 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

The central concern, as I understand it, is the no-disadvantage test as defined under part 6E of the Workplace Relations Act through the designated award, the Clerks (ACT) Award 1998. The appropriate award for the no-disadvantage test is J345, the journalists award, which covers members of this place insofar as that is concerned. There are other fundamental issues concerning what it is that it seems to me the government is setting out to do. It is setting out to create the impression, on the face of it at least, that it is shifting responsibility for the negotiation of industrial disputes from the territory, which is now responsible as the employer of staff in this place, to individual members. That is a fairly marked shift, in my view, and, on the face of it at least, it makes it difficult for collective negotiation by people in this place.

Mr Humphries: They might not want to.

MR BERRY: It makes it impossible for them.

Mr Humphries: No, it does not.

MR BERRY: Take another look. Fundamentally, the question here is the lowering of the bar in respect of the no-disadvantage test. Mr Speaker, it is basically for those reasons that I have proposed and support this motion to disallow both of these instruments.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (11.15): I was expecting more than that, Mr Speaker. Let me explain to the Assembly what it is that we are attempting to do with instruments Nos 42 and 43. It is clear that individual members of this place have a desire to negotiate outcomes for their staff that suit the particular conditions of the member's office. Since the beginning of this Assembly, we have accepted a certain amount of freedom on the part of members to set terms and conditions for their staff within certain bounds: bounds in terms of the total budget which that member has to spend in respect of their allowance; bounds in terms of minimum conditions that we expect members of the Assembly to adhere to when dealing with their staff; and bounds in terms of not binding a member who might succeed that member, say, after an election to particular terms and conditions for staff. That flexibility has been a feature for some time in the ACT.

The disallowance of the determinations which Mr Berry is seeking would undermine that process and revert the position of ACT Legislative Assembly members and, particularly, their staff to a one size fits all arrangement. The effect of disallowance would be that, instead of individual members being able to negotiate conditions and terms for their staff, someone else would have to do that.

Mr Berry: No, no.

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, that is the case, Mr Berry. The person who would have to do that is me; that is, the Chief Minister would have to do that.

Mr Berry: Now we get to the bottom of it: the territory does not want to take responsibility for it.

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