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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4248 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Whilst it is simply not the case that the government here in the ACT can ever seek to be at the top of the range with all of the relevant Commonwealth agencies, we can at least be better. Mr Speaker, increasing paid maternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks is one way of doing that.

In addition to the 12 to 14-week increase in paid maternity leave, there are a range of other maternity leave initiatives. Employees returning from maternity leave will have an entitlement to access regular part-time employment for a period up to two years from the birth of a child. This option was previously at the discretion of the employer. It is now an entitlement fully accessible by all employees, upon request.

Further, there is an option for the leave period to be doubled at half pay, which also is not currently offered by the Commonwealth, with an additional period to count as service for all purposes. That again is an option for employees which was not previously available. Further, there will be access to annual leave and long service leave on half pay, when taken in connection with maternity leave. This therefore improves the flexibility of employment conditions for ACT government employees, improving the ACT's reputation-of which this government is very proud-as an employer of best practice, when it comes to maternity leave conditions in particular.

Let me highlight what this means for the several thousand ACT public sector employees entitled to the additional leave. An employee not entitled to maternity leave, who is the primary caregiver of a newborn or adopted child, will have access to equivalent provisions. The total combined paid leave entitlement under this clause is 14 weeks.

I am sure Mr Cornwell will feel much better about that now. The equivalent caregiver is also entitled to 14 weeks leave. If you choose to adopt and you want to come and work in the ACT government service, we will look after you, Mr Cornwell.

Mr Speaker, as I have indicated, these provisions will take the ACT public service beyond International Labour Organisation standards. These are really important and worthwhile reforms. They are reforms that could have been introduced some time ago, but for the mean-spirited and destructive approach when it came to employee relations that we saw under the previous administration.

Self-funded retirees-concessions

MR CORNWELL: My question is to Mr Wood as Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. I refer to correspondence from you dated 17 October, Mr Wood, wherein you advised the extension of pensioner concessions to self-funded retirees, which I think you will agree would lead to some better outcomes for people, as Mr Corbell likes to say.

Pensioner concessions for self-funded retirees was a procedure agreed to by this Assembly in July this year and was the subject of discussions between officers of your department and the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services. Further you said, "Details of the proposal will be brought back to the Legislative Assembly in the December sitting period for consideration by members."I am quoting your letter, Minister. Where are the details you promised?

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