Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4230 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
children, often on leave without pay, which directly cuts into the accrual of long-term benefits.
We need to look at a long service leave scheme that takes into account not only the casualisation of work but a society that recognises that people need both to work and to raise families.
The changes proposed by Ms MacDonald through this motion promise to restore some equity to access to long service leave and bring about gender equality. For these reasons, I wholeheartedly support the motion and hope that we can work to ensure a system that looks after employees and employers and recognises the changing work force in the ACT.
MS TUCKER (12.20): The real debate about long service leave is probably now about what it represents. We are all aware that it grew out of a very different work environment and was seen, in part at least, as a reward for loyalty and service and as a mid-career holiday that would see employees return to work with enthusiasm.
There was an interesting story on the Myer family on the ABC TV program Dynasties earlier this week. Sidney Myer, the founding father, organised his businesses so that they provided holiday homes and dental services, and he generally built communities in his workplaces.
Loyalty in the workplace is a far less meaningful concept these days from both sides. People expect, or are expected, to move from workplace to workplace, department to department, career to career. We live and work in more fragmented times, the Myer family notwithstanding.
So the argument that loyalty should be rewarded is rather lost in a free-wheeling, globalised, individualised world that is struggling to find a contemporary ethical framework. However, long service leave has a place in what was its secondary function-a reasonable opportunity for a mid-career breather which has in one way or another been paid for through employment.
In that context, there is nothing particularly unreasonable about employers contributing to long service leave schemes where they exist, and the question is about equity. Commonwealth public servants' long service leave is already portable within the service. That can be across a wide range of workplaces and occupations. It can be argued that Canberra public service conditions need to be the default conditions and that any employee without long service entitlements is disadvantaged.
The motion points out a number of disparities in long service leave entitlements in the ACT. I do not have a problem with the government investigating the provision of a universal scheme. I was a little confused with paragraph (4) of the motion, asking me to reject the underlying proposition put to the royal commission regarding long service leave in the construction industry. The final paragraph of the commission's discussion paper on long service leave in the construction industry reads:
In the future entitlements may change with changes in society's approach to leave because-