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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 663 ..

MS TUCKER: Ms Dundas said that is a reasonable interpretation. I understand that. I am a bit concerned about us not being able to congratulate, for fear of it being politically provocative. I feel it should be possible, even for the opposition, to congratulate the government, if they sincerely believe in and are supportive of the position of government. So I am not so concerned about congratulating anybody who comes up with a good idea in this place. Certainly, in the past, I have congratulated the Liberal government on things. It was not that often, but on occasions.

I recall the poverty task force was one initiative on which I congratulated the Liberal government. I notice Mr Pratt referred to that. I found that reference interesting. The Liberal position seemed to be that this report was working, it was in existence and we just needed to do it.

Well, it was the very beginning of a process that was outlined by the poverty task force report. It does need to be pursued in a way that really takes into account, in a holistic way, what the report asked for. In fact, the Liberal government did not do that. It was criticised for that, before the election, in terms that it was a rather random picking up of the recommendations of the poverty task force. That was a general criticism. I wait to see whether this Labor government does a better job on that. I sincerely hope they do. I hope I will be able to congratulate them, in this place, on those initiatives.

In that report, there were very clear fundamental issues about the provision of what we would see as essential services or essential rights-I would say social rights-such as provision of housing, access to free public education of a high-quality, access to medical care et cetera. These are fundamental issues for people living on a low wage, or in poverty. I cannot say I have ever seen this Liberal government take a radical position against the federal government's position on public provision of these basic social rights.

If you have a good look at the poverty task force report, as far as it has gone, you will see that there is a lot of work that needs to be done; that fundamental approaches by the federal Liberal government and this government were not consistent, even in ideology, with the public provision of social rights-or even seeing them as social rights. I have heard that discussion as well-that the notion of social rights has to be challenged. That is not accepted by many people in the Liberal Party. However, if Mr Pratt is, in fact, supporting the notion of social rights and the convention on civil, political and social rights, then that would be a good discussion. Maybe we could have that another day.

In terms of this particular motion generally, the Greens definitely support workers being paid a fair wage. It is true that Australia's once egalitarian culture is little more than a myth. Today's executive salaries are out of control. We have witnessed thousands of workers losing their jobs through business closure or business failure-and, of course, through general downsizing of governments of both persuasions, Labor and Liberal. We have also seen an increase particularly from-I am not sure if it is particularly from the Liberal government, but we have definitely seen an increase in what we quite often call corporate welfare.

Speakers here are opposing this motion, on the grounds of it being a serious impost on the finances of the territory, or of Australia, to pay the lowest paid people in this country a little bit more. If they are serious about the financial pressure being so significant, they should have a good look at how much is going to corporate welfare in this country-how

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