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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2263 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

That is the intent of the motion tonight. Whether we "direct" or whether we "call on" is pretty much semantics. The Assembly must insist on decent treatment for these employees. If that is not forthcoming by the government, regardless of the final form of the motion tonight, the Assembly should take steps to hold the government accountable for its failure to deliver on decent conditions for these workers. I commend Mr Berry's motion.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (10.45): There are a number of things about this motion we need to comment on. First of all-and in this respect I address Mr Osborne's amendment-we are seeing a succession of these motions which are ambiguous about what they are saying to the government. Mr Berry's motion begins with the words "That the government direct Totalcare". There are obviously words missing. Is Mr Berry saying, "That the Assembly directs the government that it direct Totalcare to do so and so"? Is he saying, "That the Assembly urges the government" or "That the Assembly believes that the government"?

Mr Berry: It is an instruction.

MR HUMPHRIES: It is an instruction. Mr Berry repeats this myth that when the words are not used, when the words are missing, it means that it must be directive.

Mr Berry: I can put them in if you like.

MR HUMPHRIES: Worded in this way, the motion is helpfully ambiguous from Mr Berry's point of view, because he can go back to the unions concerned and say, "On the floor of the Assembly, I directed the government to do this" when in fact the motion does not quite say that. But if it turns out that after October Mr Berry is in government, he can say, "Oh, no, it is inappropriate for the Assembly to direct the government of the day on a matter to do with industrial relations."

Mr Berry, quite properly, has shown reluctance in the past for the government of the day to be directed on matters pertaining to industrial relations-to interpose the Assembly between workers and employers and intervene in the terms of either a certified agreement or industrial negotiations under the Industrial Relations Commission. I welcome Mr Osborne's amendment, because we need to be clear about whether the Assembly is directing or calling on the government to do this particular thing.

I obviously support the amendment Mr Osborne has moved. It is utterly inappropriate for the Assembly to assume the role of a party to negotiations of this kind. Just last week, Mr Berry came in here and told us that the Australian Industrial Relations Commission was the appropriate place for disputes between employers and employees to be settled. He said that that was the appropriate forum with respect to the matter that was before the Assembly to do with the Legislative Assembly (Members' Staff) Act.

Today Mr Berry comes into this place and says, "Oh, no, it is not the appropriate thing for you to be doing." He overlooks the fact that there is an industrial agreement already executed in respect of the matter of redundancies for the staff of Totalcare-the Totalcare industry certified agreement 1998. I assume that means it was executed in 1998. Agreement was reached between the staff of Totalcare and Totalcare about the way in which redundancies would be handled should they arise.

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