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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2864 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The government's WorkCover at work scheme gets WorkCover officers out of their headquarters, as they are already, giving them a very visible presence through the WorkCover at work van, which visits shopping centres and areas of employment such as Fyshwick and Mitchell, as well as the more central business areas-right around the city-to get the message out about the responsibilities of employers. That is a very important measure.

I commend WorkCover for the work they are doing on education. Education now is the central aim-not solely an issue of enforcement and compliance. Education is central to preventing death and injury, and preventing the issues dealt with in a more reactive way in other parts of the ACT's legislation.

In relation to the Dangerous Goods Act, the Dangerous Goods Act is certainly an increasingly outmoded piece of legislation which contains serious deficiencies. However, ACT WorkCover and the government have an obligation to ensure that where, as a government, we are aware of breaches of the Dangerous Goods Act, such as improper or dangerous storage of fireworks or the sale of fireworks without an appropriate licence, the matter is brought before the courts for resolution.

That is an appropriate measure. These decisions are taken by the commissioner. The commissioner is a statutory officer, responsible for the enforcement of these regulations, and she must do so without fear or favour. If costs accrue as a result of those activities, it is incumbent on the government to meet those costs.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I move now to the issues raised by Mr Pratt. Mr Pratt has outlined the general, broadly ideological, view the Liberals bring to this discussion. Let me dispel some of the issues and myths he sought to perpetuate in the debate tonight.

First of all, Mr Pratt claims that the unions are closing out employees in relation to EBA negotiations in the public service. What Mr Pratt failed to acknowledge, in his ideological rantings, was that every EBA must be approved by a vote of all public servants in the relevant agency, whether they are members of the union or not. That is how an EBA is approved. No other way is satisfactory. For Mr Pratt to claim that unions are going to have the whip hand and are driving these agreements is false. It is the public servants who drive the agreements. They vote on whether or not the EBA is acceptable to them.

The logic following therefrom is that a union seeking to represent its members is not going to represent and advocate an EBA arrangement which will not win the endorsement of the majority of members in the workplace. It is that simple. That shows the fatal flaw in Mr Pratt's argument, in that regard.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the other issue I want to address is AWAs, which are, fundamentally, unfair and secretive workplace arrangements. They are used to divide and conquer employees in the ACT government workplace, as they do not deliver equity and fairness. The government has moved to replace AWAs with a transparent and fair process which still recognises that, in certain circumstances, you have to offer special conditions to attract qualified people.

Mr Pratt: This will be the only jurisdiction that believes that rubbish.

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