Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 665 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
For that reason, I will support this motion. I am very pleased that the government has supported the ACTU's living wage proposal. I am happy to congratulate them on that, but if that is amended now I will just acknowledge it as a positive intervention. That is fine, I am happy to do that. I hope the Industrial Relations Commission grants the claim that will start to address, to a small degree, Australia's growing wage inequity.
Amendment agreed to.
MS GALLAGHER (4.35): I thank members for their support of this motion-and others for their contribution to the debate.
I must say that Mr Pratt's fears about losing employment opportunities in the ACT had actually brought me back, for a moment, to my previous occupation as a union organiser. Every time we were involved in wages bargaining across the table, the same line was run. I am sure my colleagues in the chamber who have also worked for unions have heard it before. Surprise, surprise-the wages outcomes were delivered and jobs were not lost!
Mr Humphries says there is no evidence to prove that the disadvantage suffered by lower income earners is increasing and that things are getting better for them, not worse. I do not agree with that. I am happy to provide Mr Humphries with evidence of that, if he so wishes. However, leaving that aside, the fact of the matter is that there are workers in the ACT, and around the country, who are earning $400 a week, or just above that, as their weekly wage. At the end of the day, this is about securing an extra $25 for them.
The ACT government was involved in the submission, we did provide data to the submission, and we did provide detail to the submission. We are happy to be part of a joint submission, because we believe that a united approach from the state and territory governments in this area is a strong way to argue the case for wage justice in Australia.
The proposed rise in the living wage represents a rise of only 3.8 per cent, in real terms. However, it will make a marked difference to the lives of many families. I do not think I need to go on much longer. I just draw the Assembly's attention to comments from the 2000 Brotherhood of St Lawrence report No Child, which states:
In countries such as Australia, much of the harmful impact of poverty on parents and children comes from the stress and alienation connected with having a very low income; the continual juggling of finances, financial uncertainty, and very often a sense of being different and less worthwhile. For children, the impact of stress (and unhappiness) may be direct or indirect through the parents' experiences and behaviour.
Families need this increase. The evidence before the commission will argue that the $25 wages claim will have minimal impact on inflation, will not alter job opportunities, will alleviate some of the stress and disadvantage experienced by low paid workers, and will have an impact on those workers most in need.
I hope that the commissioners hearing this case will support the claim sought by the ACT and supported by the joint Labor submission. It is certainly the case that having a job in Australia no longer guarantees the wellbeing of you or your family, or a life without