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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4247 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Further, I am pleased to advise members that the unions representing ACT government employees in the bargaining process have welcomed this major improvement in maternity leave provisions in the ACT. This long overdue reform puts ACT public servants ahead of their Commonwealth counterparts when it comes to maternity leave provisions in the ACT. This means that the ACT and the Northern Territory are the only two Australian jurisdictions that comply with the International Labour Organisation's international minimum standard of 14 weeks paid maternity leave.

Mr Speaker, I believe this is a very important reform. It is important in two respects. It recognises the important challenges faced by women returning to work, in the juggling of family and work responsibilities. In that regard, I believe it is a very important reform. I hear senator elect Pratt grumbling away over there in the departure lounge, but I hope that even senator elect Pratt would welcome such an initiative.

This is an important initiative, Mr Speaker, not solely because it delivers real benefits for women returning to work in the ACT government service, but also because it gives a competitive edge to the ACT government when it comes to seeking to attract and retain staff in the ACT government service, over the Commonwealth.

We now have better paid maternity leave provisions than the Commonwealth. That, along with other measures the government is moving to implement now, as part of the enterprise bargaining agreement with ACT government employees, will, I hope, redress the six years of inaction and neglect we saw under the previous Liberal Party when it came to wages and conditions in the ACT government service.

Mr Humphries: The highest paid teachers in the country; the highest paid firemen; the highest paid nurses and bus drivers.

MR CORBELL: The highest paid, Mr Speaker. Under their leadership, real wages of ACT public servants went backwards. This is the man-Mr Humphries-who I think was Treasurer at the time, or certainly a member of the government, and Chief Minister for a period-who stood up in this chamber earlier today and said, "We would love to deliver better outcomes for all workers in the ACT."What is their record in government?

Mr Humphries: We had the best employment rate in the country-lowest unemployment.

MR CORBELL: I know you don't like this. Their record in government over four years resulted in real wage decreases for ACT public servants. That is their record-real wage decreases over four years.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Members of the opposition will come to order.

MR CORBELL: Maybe that gives them something to boast about at Liberal Party branch meetings, but what has been the impact on ACT government employees and their families, and the health of the service? It has meant that ACT government employees and their families have had to struggle to maintain a reasonable standard of living. What it has meant for the health of the service is that the government has lost too many people to other jurisdictions which pay better.

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