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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1835 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

would be overturned by them anyway if the matter ever went to them for determination.

It being 45 minutes after the commencement of Assembly business, the debate was interrupted in accordance with standing order 77. Ordered that the time allotted to Assembly business be extended by 30 minutes.

MS TUCKER (11.52): This motion seeks to disallow an instrument made by the Chief Minister which varies the terms and conditions of employment of the staff of MLAs to allow the negotiation of certified agreements under the Australian workplace agreements section of the Commonwealth Workplace Relations Act. If Mr Kaine is not sure that he should oppose things, he should support Mr Berry's motion, because it is Mr Humphries who has initiated this change.

The arguments being put here today are that this is somehow a very complicated matter, that it is matter of ideology and so on. At present, staff are generally employed under Commonwealth contracts which are linked back to general public service conditions, although the Chief Minister can vary these conditions through determinations. I understand that some members want the flexibility to use certified agreements and AWAs for the employment of their staff. I also understand that the staff of the ALP members, or some of them, are interested in developing a certified agreement which they believe will give them more protection against the arbitrary changes to their conditions by the Chief Minister.

I do not have a fixed view on the most appropriate employment arrangements for staff in this Assembly, although the Greens do have a general problem with the use of AWAs as they undermine the system of collective bargaining which has protected workers conditions for many years. As I have said many times in this place, if you look at who is suffering from the lack of collective bargaining you will find that it is the weakest and most vulnerable people in our community; in particular, women who are in industries which are not industrially strong.

My office, getting back to this issue, has been able to work with the existing system of contract employment, but I do understand the concerns of the ALP. There is, I understand, a definite problem with this instrument in its reference to the clerks award.

Mr Humphries: Why?

MS TUCKER: Mr Humphries asks why. I do not know how many staff of the people here actually went to the seminar organised by the Secretariat back in March to explain the implications of this instrument. My staff went and they were interested to hear that the independent industrial relations consultant engaged to run the seminar could not understand why the clerks award was specified. The consultant thought it must have been a mistake or that it was decided by someone who did not know how the act worked.

People who work with me went to that seminar. They were interested in understanding the issues. I am not an expert on this issue as to either the Workplace Relations Act or the commission, but I do know that Mr Humphries is initiating a change here. If people

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