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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2854 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

predicament you find yourself in, but my colleague Mr Pratt is actually correct when he says that the situation your government is in, in terms of money, is far better than what we had in 2000 and eminently better than in 1996 when we did have those very depressing industrial actions, which depressed me as minister, the government, the teachers and indeed the students.

Mr Stanhope: We can manage, mate. We can manage, Bill.

MR STEFANIAK: No, you can't manage, Chief Minister. That's the real problem. You're living off the benefits of a very successful government which did a lot of hard work to get there. Give you a few more years and God knows what situation we'll be in. I hate to think, as a citizen of this territory, what situation we'll be in. You are in a much better situation.

Yes, I can appreciate the fact you do need to be careful, and you must find that rather difficult. When you were in your previous role, of course you were after the pay increases. I actually indicated in an interjection that I always found the AEU to be very reasonable.

One of the big problems I suppose you do have in this-and Mrs Cross is right-is that we do undervalue teachers. But the fact is there are lots of them-about 3,500 in the ACT and about a quarter of a million, I think, in the government sector Australia wide, which is probably about five times the number there are of regular defence personnel, for example. It's a big swag. And they're all professionals. That makes it, I think, very, very hard for anyone doing this.

But Ms Gallagher, you can do it. I think you yourself supplied the figures that proved how you do prioritise, and that was in relation to the various EBAs in 2000. That was when, sadly, all that could be offered public servants-and yes, they took it-was, I think you said, 5 per cent over three years. I thought it was a bit more.

Let's just say your figures are right then-5 per cent over three years. We were still picking up the mess that your previous Labor administration left us. The teachers we prioritised, and we were actually able to offer, at the end of the day, in difficult times, when the territory's budget, unlike now, was not in a healthy position, 111/2 per cent over three years. My colleague Mr Pratt reminds me-I had forgotten this particular figure-91 per cent of the teachers actually supported that particular EBA.

Ms Gallagher: Yes, because you were a mean, mean, mean government.

MR STEFANIAK: No, far from it. In fact, I'll give you another hint, Ms Gallagher. I don't like giving the opposition hints. Talk to the AEU. Talk to them. They're quite reasonable. You'll find actually they're quite reasonable people. Also, in that particular EBA, which you are now denigrating, a lot of work had been done before we even got to consider money. A lot of other conditions and give-and-takes had been worked out.

At the end of the day it was a fairly simple process of them wanting a reasonable pay offer, realising the predicament we were in, but actually suggesting something along the lines of what ultimately we could afford, and once that occurred it was done fairly

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