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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3666 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

The parental leave bill that we are dealing with this evening is of the same ilk, but it relates to casual employees. The bill applies to casual employees who are not covered by awards or whose awards do not mention parental leave.

Mr Speaker, if this were not so serious, members in this place would be falling about laughing at the government's position. The fact of the matter is that this legislation applies only to those employees who are not covered by an award or whose awards do not deal with this matter. Mr Smyth says that we do not know what the cost is. Well, there is no cost because they do not get paid.

The minister has taken an incredible position. I should take that back-nothing is incredible for the conservatives, for the Liberals, in relation to industrial matters. They would do anything to stop any provisions flowing to ordinary working people.

I should refer to the recent parental leave agreement negotiated with the Catholic universities. The Catholic universities have agreed to three months leave on full pay; I think to a couple of weeks leave at full pay for male carers; and to 60 per cent of full pay for the remaining 12 months. And here we are quibbling about a leave provision which relates to people who are not covered by awards or people who do not have such a provision in their awards, and it comes at no cost.

In light of such a significant decision as that reached in the Catholic universities case, I feel a bit embarrassed about bringing this matter before the Assembly. I am certain that decision has been the start of the flux in parental leave. This legislation merely catches up with what has been going on in the federal commission in terms of determining standards across this country.

It is shameful that this government should look as though it is dragging its feet, and I want no part of that. I feel embarrassed that we have a minister who would stand up in this place and say that we want to put it off. Mr Speaker, it will cost nothing; it comes at no cost. So the cost would not be worrying to even somebody from a political party like yours, which has strong connections with the business sector.

MR SPEAKER: The Speaker has no view on that, as you know Mr Berry. It is up to my colleagues to make any comments.

MR BERRY: Indeed, Mr Speaker. I do not mean to involve you in the debate. I know that if you wanted to get involved in the debate you would do so. I know from what happened last night that you really want to stay here and listen to the details of this. I know that at one stage you were saying, or made you position known, that you wanted to go home but then I saw you vote to stay here and I thought, "The Speaker loves this." Tonight we are going to charm you again with long debates about important issues.

MR SPEAKER: I doubt it. I just accept my responsibilities, thank you.


: Mr Speaker, this is one of those charming debates, and it is about an important issue for ordinary working people-I have to say that, in the scheme of things, there are not many of them. Mr Speaker, I am amused that the government would take

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