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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1349 ..

Mr Smyth: So we did back Kendell then?

MS MacDONALD: You did back Kendell, but split the funds. The Liberals could have helped 200 Canberra families keep an income. They could have helped keep the call centre in Tuggeranong going, but they did not do that. They did nothing.

And who suffers? Former Ansett employees do. To date, Ansett's former Canberra employees have received no superannuation. They have a paltry four weeks payment in lieu and an eight weeks redundancy payout, which John Howard said was "an acceptable community standard" in the SEESA plan.

Some people, some of them my friends, had been working for this airline for over 30 years. They have nowhere else to go. They were told, "You can have four plus eight weeks payout, which is an acceptable thing." I would suggest that nobody in this place or in the place on the hill would find that acceptable. but Many have still not received even these payments.

Who can forget the images we saw in the newspapers and on the TV of hundreds of Ansett employees who saw their job as more than just a means of earning money, as they hugged each other and cried and spoke about Ansett's demise as being like losing a family? I know that that is how they feel. Time and time again I have seen Ansett employees giving up time and not taking their leave. They gave up their New Year's Eve as the year 2000 came in so that the entire place did not collapse, and they did not get any special payment for that.

Some good news has emerged over the last 24 hours or so. Former staff have been able to secure preferred buyer status for a combined buy-out by Kendell-Hazelton which must fly into Canberra. They have two weeks to get the bid finalised. That means the remaining 20 baggage handling Canberra jobs now look more hopeful. The only disappointing aspect of this move is that it has taken a consortium of Ansett employees to provide hope and to get this far while the Howard government continues to sit back.

I am grateful the ACT Treasurer has taken his job seriously and is focusing efforts on getting Canberra tourism pumping again. It is a great tragedy that the Stanhope government was not in power before October 20 last year. We may have been able to do more. Certainly we would have been able to do more than the Humphries government bothered to do.

MR SMYTH (5.28): It seems that we have reduced ourselves to the Mark Latham school of bluster, which says that if you say something it must therefore be true. It is a shame that Ms MacDonald made assertions that she had to contradict herself on later in her speech. She asserted that we did nothing. Then right at the end of the speech she said that there were packages for both Kendell and Hazelton. This inconsistency from Ms MacDonald calls into doubt her knowledge of what happened and her commitment to her own motion.

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