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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2848 ..

MS GALLAGHER: The clause came in when the agreement was certified. It was in the agreement. And we're negotiating in good faith. We don't want to be in breach of the agreement, but the actual agreement says that we cannot negotiate the whole agreement till we get over the initial offer.

I hope that I've given you industrial relations AO1 of the teachers agreement. I hope that you understand now that the government is not hiding anything; that we can't negotiate the three-year agreement, Steve, because your party has given us a situation where we can't do that.

We don't want to see strike action. We will do everything we can to avoid it. We recognise the role that teachers play in our schools. At least, if not more than, 80 per cent of the education budget goes into teachers wages.

We understand their role. They deliver education to our kids. We want to do the right thing, but at the same time we have to be looking at a bigger picture, which is a three-year agreement; and it's very difficult to look at that big picture when you're stuck at the first hurdle. And that hurdle wasn't put there by anyone other than your party when you were busy suppressing wage outcomes in the public sector. Go and have a read of it, Steve. Have a look a what's on the table. I don't think it's as simple as you think.

But keep in mind that we're keeping a file on you now. We'll be welcoming you in the left caucus in the next month if you choose to, because I'm really pleased with the very, very progressive IR agenda that you are running.

MS TUCKER (8.20): I won't go into the details of the nature of the agreement. I think Ms Gallagher has done that extremely well. I just want to talk a little bit more broadly about the question. I do think it is clear that salaries for senior teachers in the ACT teaching service are behind those of their New South Wales counterparts, and the recent pay offer would have seen those teachers remain behind their New South Wales and many other state counterparts.

I absolutely agree with the analysis from Ms Gallagher in terms of what the Liberal position was on teachers over the years. If you have a look at the figures for the comparative salaries, it's quite clear.

Mr Stefaniak: How surprising!

MS TUCKER: And Mr Pratt's chatting away there to himself, as he always does, saying, "How surprising!"

Mr Stefaniak: No, it's actually been me.

MS TUCKER: No, it was Mr Pratt and Mr Stefaniak that I heard. Fine. I don't know why I reacted to it. However, I won't do it again, promise. It is quite obvious, though, that the difference between the ACT and other states has become quite marked over the last number of years.

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