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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2672 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

In response to this question, will the Chief Minister tell this Assembly which part of the words "will be regulated under an Australian workplace agreement" he does not understand? Let us not forget that the Chief Minister said that these are entirely-what was the word?-voluntary. Which part of the words "will be regulated under an Australian workplace agreement" does he not understand? When will the Chief Minister give us the pleasure of apologising for his inaccurate and misleading statement in the Assembly when he said that these agreements were entirely voluntary? None of them are.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Berry's lawyerly skills are about as good as his economic skills. I indicated very unambiguously yesterday in the house, and I do so again today, that the Australian workplace agreements-

Mr Berry: When you were caught out.

MR HUMPHRIES: If he does not want to hear my answer, I am happy to sit down, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: If it continues, I will be happy to suggest that you do.

MR HUMPHRIES: The fact is that those Australian workplace agreements are voluntary, not just in respect of the department from which that advertisement comes but in all parts of the government. If a piece of information has come from some area of the government which says something to the contrary, last time I looked the government was in charge-the ministers were in charge-of these processes, not somebody else, so that view will prevail. I have indicated already that the indication in that statement yesterday was wrong. What I said to the house yesterday was correct and remains the case.

What part of "will" do I not understand? I do not know. I might ask Mr Quinlan that question. I remember him saying that he "will" resign if the $344 million figure for the operating loss under Labor is substantiated. And we are still waiting. If he "will" resign, I "will" tell the Assembly, as I have said before, that there will be only voluntary AWAs under this government.

MR BERRY: I ask a supplementary question. Does the Chief Minister know that the Workplace Relations Act requires Australian workplace agreements to satisfy the requirement that the employee genuinely consented to making the AWA? Now that he has changed the rules, will he advise the Employment Advocate that the ACT government has offended the intentions of the Workplace Relations Act by compelling employees to sign up for AWAs and that these AWAs signed up under those conditions are probably unlawful?

Mr Moore: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. That question asks for a legal opinion.

MR SPEAKER: The last part certainly calls for something like that. The first part I am not sure about.

MR HUMPHRIES: I would trust Mr Berry's legal opinion on the Australian workplace legislation about as far as I would trust his views on how to run a surplus in this place. The view of the government is perfectly clear. No doubts should be held about that

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