Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2866 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
proportion of the population-if not the majority-is non-unionised, is going to be a very difficult one indeed.
Measures need to be democratic in that framework, to be able to respect the fact that some people-perhaps to the chagrin of Mr Corbell-will choose not to negotiate in union-overarching, or union-dominated, frameworks; they prefer individual negotiations.
As we discovered in the course of the Estimates Committee, there is no reason for those arrangements, if the government so chooses, not to have a high degree of transparency. Transparency is not an issue. There is no reason why you cannot have complete transparency in those arrangements, if you want it. Mr Deputy Speaker, transparency is not the issue here. The issue is flexibility. If the government wants to move away from flexibility in the workplace in favour of simplicity, that is fine, but let us not pretend that simplicity is the only goal to be sought in this exercise.
MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (5.17): Mr Humphries simply does not understand the point. The point is that you have failed to demonstrate how our arrangements are less flexible, while still being more transparent. The level of union membership in the ACT is not in issue, whether it is within or outside the ACT government service. The fundamental issue is how do we best ensure that employees have the best opportunity to negotiate on a level playing field?
The reality is that, frequently, if you are not protected by a union, which is able to martial the resources to advocate in your interests, you are not on a level playing field for negotiating the working conditions of your employment. It is quite clear how that can be the case. You would advertise the position, saying, "You can have this position if you win at an interview, as long as you accept an AWA."
That is a fundamentally uneven playing field. That is the point. You do not get that point, because you are not interested in the notion of ensuring there is a level playing field between employee and employer, but we are. As a party, we are. That is why we have taken the steps we have taken.
MR PRATT (5.19): Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to respond to Mr Corbell's comments. It is extremely relevant when we point out that, with a reduction in the membership of unions in the ACT public service, there is now no place in this working environment, for-as Mr Humphries put it-a union-centric system. While the minister fails to understand that, I think it is beyond me and the community in general. That is a very relevant point to make.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure-part 6-Treasury, $37,980,000 (net cost of outputs), $14,928,000 (capital injection) and $42,962,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $95,870,000.
MR HUMPHRIES(Leader of the Opposition) (5.21): Mr Quinlan earlier enjoined us all to inject some humour into the debate. I must say I have not found much to laugh about in the budget so far. In fact, some parts almost bring me to tears. However, there is one