Page 582 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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MR HARGREAVES: When other matters surrounding the whole issue of the settlement of Pierces Creek are completed.

MRS BURKE: I have a supplementary question. Is funding from our insurance still available to rebuild these houses?

MR STANHOPE: I will take that question. Under the administrative arrangements, responsibility for Pierces Creek is mine.

Mr Smyth: Stepping in to cover Mr Hargreaves.

MR STANHOPE: No, I am not. Mr Smyth knows very well that issues about Pierces Creek and rural settlements are my responsibility under the administrative arrangements order. It is a concern to me that after two years the Liberal Party has not understood that the administrative responsibility for bushfire-related reconstruction is mine. It is mine pursuant to the administrative arrangements order. It is not a responsibility of the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services.

Mr Smyth: So he is not responsible for public housing?

MR STANHOPE: No, he is not responsible for the reconstruction of Stromlo, Uriarra or Pierces Creek. The answer to the question about Pierces Creek is when the Liberal commonwealth government makes the decision.

Workplace relations

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations, Ms Gallagher. Minister, are you aware of the comments made by the federal minister for workplace relations recently, supporting a recently released Business Council of Australia report entitled Workplace relations—the way forward? Could you please outline for the assembly what this report and the federal minister’s comments might mean for the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. The Business Council of Australia released earlier this week a report entitled Workplace relations—the way forward, arguing the case for dismantling the industrial relations system underpinned by the Industrial Relations Commission. The BCA released simultaneously its action plan for this document and, for anyone who has an interest in industrial relations, what a scary read it is. Aside from the obtuse debate on what constitutes fairness in industrial relations, the BCA makes some very strong and startling recommendations. Here are just a few of them: a new approach to industrial relations focusing purely on productivity and disregarding fairness; and changes to the way we set minimum wages. The BCA wants this done to ensure that our minimum wages policies are based on those nations with the lowest unemployment. In reality this means adopting a sort of low wages US economic model. I quote the report:

If the range of minimum wages available under legislation was reduced … it would be best to set it at the lower end of the minimum wages presently available.

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