Page 1091 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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ago for a while—or spent some time there, I should say—but really things have moved on from $3 an hour. Nobody in Australian politics is advocating $3 an hour as a minimum rate of pay. The federal government has advocated reforms and I am sure that we will have the opportunity to discuss those as they might impact on the ACT’s affairs in due course.

The living wage case is an important part of the process in Australia. I do not think it works well, in that it is constantly flat dollar amounts and therefore it continues to lead to inequities in the bands of employment classifications. I also think that it is a very arbitrary process in applying one set of equations across every employee in Australia, many of whom live in different environments and work in different industry sectors. As a result, employers are frequently compelled to make hard decisions based on the outcomes that they can afford, and invariably those decisions can result in letting people go. Those concerns I have outlined today are the views of the opposition.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.08): Anyone tuning into Mr Mulcahy’s speech would think the sky was going to fall in. They would think we were asking for double the minimum wage.

We are talking here about people who earn $460 a week getting a decent wage increase in line with wage increases around Australia. Current wage increases are sitting at around 3½ to four per cent per annum. That is what this wage increase of $20, which the territory government has supported, is. It is not about creating a society where there are going to be tremendous job losses, businesses unable to operate and the lowest paid workers being worse off than they are currently.

Mr Mulcahy, you speak, I think, of such tremendous impact—as Mr Gentleman said, disastrous impact—on someone who earns $460 a week getting a $20 a week pay increase. It is absolutely astounding. I would be surprised if any of us here in this chamber could live on $460 a week. It would be interesting to know what pay rises all the people working for the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group are getting at the moment. I bet you they earn a little more than $460.

Mr Mulcahy: What have they got to do with it?

MS GALLAGHER: You are them!

Mr Mulcahy: No, I am not them; I am sorry.

MS GALLAGHER: Everything I have read from the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group you have just spoken into the microphone. For all the people who oppose the reasonable wage outcome that the combined governments around the state and territory are seeking, I bet you they are earning a little more than $460 a week, and I bet you they do not lose their jobs when pay rises go up—probably in excess of $20 a week, I would imagine.

The living wage case is an essential part of taking care of those people who do not get the benefit of increased wealth. I think Mr Mulcahy referred to them saying, “The majority of people in Australia do very well.” That is true; there are a lot of people who

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