Page 1099 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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this resolution put forward in the Assembly because I do not think it supports good motives, and I do not think it is a message that promotes unity between employer and employee.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member’s time has expired.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.37): Mr Deputy Speaker, ACT Green policies recognise the importance of workers being in a position to balance personal responsibilities with their working life. We call for equal pay for equal work, family and community-friendly work practices, portable worker entitlements and flexible working hours. Some years ago, the French Greens joined the Socialist Party in France to mandate the 35-hour week to create better work/life balance and create more jobs. While this was unpopular prior to its introduction, with many, particularly employers, calling that the sky would fall in, it was actually found to be a very popular measure and one that advantaged employers and employees alike.

We recognise that the work performed as part of the paid workforce is but one component of a person’s life. This is something that employers sometimes forget. We know that many other factors play a part in determining whether a person has a good life. For most people, the good life includes satisfying relationships with friends and family, recreational activities, paid employment and community service activities. At certain periods of their life, it will also include significant caring roles in relation to children, parents, partners, relatives or friends. It is vital for the health and wellbeing of individuals in our community that people are able to pay due attention to all these areas of their life, not simply their employment responsibilities.

It will enable better sharing of household tasks if neither partner in a relationship can claim to be too busy due to work demands. It will be better for children if parents have flexible enough hours to stay home when children are ill and worn out, rather than inflicting those children on the school and childcare to deal with.

Earlier in the life of this Assembly, I supported the changing of our hours of operation to allow for other responsibilities to be managed. It is important the Assembly not only pay lip service to recognition of work-life balance but also model and encourage working arrangements that support this practice.

I want to refer to an article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday. It is interesting and relevant to this topic. The report refers to a study by Access Economics and makes these points:

The working day could be redrawn so that all vital business happens between 10am and 3pm to reflect workers’ demanding lifestyles … And childcare could be tax deductible and workers could draw on their superannuation to fund parental leave.

I am not saying I espouse these things; I am just referring to the kinds of flexibilities that there are. The report continues:

Having core business hours between 10am and 3pm would allow people to work from 7am to 3pm or 10am to 7pm, in accordance with their family needs, such as dropping children off at school and picking them up.

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