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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1556 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The Liberal government made a submission recommending a miserly $10 per week wage increase for the lowest paid workers in Australia. The usual suspects, the peak employer groups, mirrored that submission. Surprise, surprise! Fortunately, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission took a more enlightened view and granted an $18 per week increase to all award rates, bringing the federal weekly minimum wage up from $413.40 to $431.40.

Whilst we have many more steps to take in improving wages for those who are lowest paid, this commitment by all Labor governments, including the ACT Labor government, has seen a significant increase in the amount of pay provided to the lowest paid in our community. This is only possible when governments are prepared to make those statements, join in with those submissions and argue at a national level-something this government is prepared to do; something the previous government consistently failed to do.

The ACT government will be continuing to work with the Labor state and territory governments on similar issues to improve industrial relations and wage outcomes. I will be meeting with my Labor state and territory colleagues responsible for industrial relations following a workplace relations ministers council in the coming weeks.

Closer to home, the other commitment the government has achieved is a strong result for ACT school principals. Principals have recently accepted and endorsed a pay offer from the ACT government. Ninety-six per cent of principals voted to approve the agreement, which provides for a 14 per cent salary increase over a period of 19 months, including one per cent for a professional development fund. This final increase, once it is paid, will see ACT principals back up amongst the highest paid of all principals around Australia. That is a very important signal to send: improving wage outcomes and valuing the leadership that principals provide in our schools and our school communities.

Those are two very clear examples of the government taking a proactive and progressive approach to industrial relations policy and getting outcomes on the ground.

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Can the minister inform the Assembly of the benefits flowing from these outcomes?

MR CORBELL: In relation to the living wage case, as I have said, there will be an $18 increase to all award rates, bringing the federal weekly minimum wage from $413.40 to $431.40 per week, which will benefit 1.7 million workers. In relation to the principals agreement, principals will now have access to a dedicated professional development fund. The new agreement will expire at the same time as the current teachers agreement, in August 2003, which will enable a new replacement agreement to be negotiated for both teachers and principals.

This is important because this government is committed to reducing the total number of agreements in the ACT government service. The ACT government service has 59 agreements for only 14,000 staff. This level of duplication and administrative complication has not served any employees well; nor has it benefited individual agencies.

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