Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 858 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
So a lot of very important issues come out of the discussion that Ms Gallagher has raised today. One of the solutions that have been suggested is limiting the working week. I know that this was trialled in France but I am not quite sure if it is still continuing. From memory, the government in France attempted to reduce the standard working week but that did not work so well. New job creation was pretty marginal with employers. Overtime levels increased, with resulting damage to competitiveness through rises in wage costs. There was agreement in Germany that hours be reduced, and that was more successful-I understand that quite a number of jobs, over 50,000, were created through that. The results have been mixed but this is just one of the attempts that have been made to try to deal with this issue.
While there is no easy solution to the overwork/underwork problem, basically it is a problem that requires us to engage in discussion about how to deal with it. It requires us to understand how much underwork/overwork is occurring. As Ms Gallagher has put to us today, we need to have statistics that are relevant and accurately indicate the situation of people who are in the workforce and people who are trying to be in the workforce. People are being totally missed out of the statistics that are gathered because of the flawed way that surveys are being undertaken.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (5.11): I have in front of me some information which supports the case made by Ms Gallagher. Although the point has been made that there has not been much debate, I think there is sufficient data now in Hansard.
I believe that a strong economy is one in which the labour force participates, or in which participants are able to achieve their desired amount of employment. Ms Gallagher referred to-I think this was the term she used-"adverse social outcomes", and this is disturbing. What we have seen in recent times under a federal Liberal government has been the casualisation of the workforce. This has been done under the euphemism of labour market reform. These days the word "reform" usually means improvement but it cannot in any way mean that in this particular case. I suppose Mr Peter Reith has to be congratulated for doing the job that he set out to do, and the new hard man of the Right, the Tories' Tony Abbott, has followed in his footsteps.
The ultimate outcomes are quite scary. Some of those outcomes will not be visited upon the community as a whole for a generation. Before this phenomenon, people could look forward to purchasing a home and establishing themselves; many of them could generally look forward to contributing to some form of life insurance or assurance or superannuation in order to take care of themselves in their later life. But what we are going to see arising out of the current generation of increased casualisation of the workforce is people never reaching the position of being able to commence building for their futures and building to take care of themselves.
According to the statistics that I have, this phenomenon now impacts more on young people and more on women. Given the changing nature of family structures, there is going to be, in the longer term, a lot more women who, through no fault of their own, are going to become dependent upon society. At the same time, this is going to happen when we have an ageing community. It seems to me that the whole labour market reform that