Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4294 ..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
committee and we are certainly committed to work together to work out a process for government-funded services to be able to meet their award conditions.
Ms Dundas spoke about the increased casualisation of the public sector work force. I certainly did not think that was the case and I am just having a look at figures from the State of the service report which show that there has been a slight decline in the percentage of casual staff since 1998 to 2003; it has dropped from 11.2 per cent to 10.6 per cent in 2003. The commissioner is maintaining a watching brief on this issue but makes the comment that the ratio between employment groups, casual, temporary and permanent, has remained relatively stable over the past few years, with no significant evidence of increased casualisation.
In relation to the permanency of the public service, the total number of ACT government employees as at 30 June was 18,791. Of those, 16,888 were employed under the Public Sector Management Act. The trend for the ACT public service to increase in size has continued, with actual growth in staff numbers between 4.3 and 3.2 per cent in full-time equivalents.
In some of the comments of Mrs Burke, I think she was taking the typical Liberal line of using the word "choice"as the justification for ensuring that rights and entitlements were wound back. She made comments about the flexibility and dexterity of a casual work force and said that people enjoy working two jobs and that we have to acknowledge their choice. Well, we certainly do not envisage a situation where casual employment would not remain a choice for workers. But, if you gave casual workers a choice between a permanent job where they could have some security, take out a loan and do all the things that permanent workers can do and the opportunity to work two casual jobs with the same employer, I think I can guess what their choice would be. The choice would be for security of employment, not for a range of jobs in order to reach a full-time capacity within those jobs.
Mrs Burke accused Ms MacDonald of being out of touch. Well, I would certainly argue that some of the comments she made today showed just how out of touch she is with the matters of workers. She might be in touch with some of the employers' views on this matter. But, if she took the time to speak to the workers working these jobs and experiencing the life of a casual worker, I suggest she might form other views.
I thank Mr Hargreaves for the motion and I urge other members to support it.
MR HARGREAVES (11.25), in reply: I thank members for their support and I thank the minister for the advice on the government's attitude. It angers me sometimes that some in this chamber have to view this sort of an issue as an adversarial one with winners and losers, and then they take the side of the possessor of power.
I do not want to take sides. I recognise the need to reward the risk taker. If somebody puts their house on the line to get a small business going, we should expect them to have a reasonable return on the risk that they have undertaken. But this reward should not be at the expense of the provider of the labour that achieves that, and certainly not at the expense of the most vulnerable provider of the labour, the casual worker.