Page 1376 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005
entire theme of Mr Mulcahy’s speech here today around wage increases: that they are too generous, giving too much to a vital part of Canberra’s work force.
The issue that he does not touch on is the fact that the public sector workers received a real wage cut under the previous government, and essentially we have been playing catch-up. If he wants us to apologise for actually fixing up the deficiencies that we were left with when we came in, we can do that. We can apologise that we had to make our work force competitive with the commonwealth because we were not able to retain staff. We were not able to attract staff in key areas of work shortage because they were not paid competitive wages.
This absolute obsession by the opposition with public service pay rates was shown in the committee’s request for my appearance. One and a half hours were allocated for industrial relations matters—that is, public servants getting paid too much. Half an hour was given to the very important area of children, youth and family support—and no time was allocated to education, at all. They were not interested. Is that keeping the government accountable? For a bit of transparency in two large service areas their view was, “We’re not even interested in talking to you about those issues because we are absolutely obsessed with the fact that public servants get paid too much.”
The final point I will make is on Mr Mulcahy’s suggestion that I go and undertake a course in enterprise bargaining 101, with the Treasurer as my supervisor. I am not going to accept that advice, because Mr Mulcahy does not understand that we are always going to disagree on industrial relations matters. That is why I am in government and he is in opposition. I do not come from the industrial relations school of, “Let’s try and screw the workers over.” We actually come from a belief that we should give people a fair go, that they should be paid fair remuneration and have fair conditions for the work that we are asking them to do. That is the position that this government has taken in relation to industrial relations matters. We will fundamentally disagree with each other on this for the term of this Assembly, but it is not a position that this government is going to apologise for.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.38): I will not repeat any points that my colleagues made, as I note the time, but I will make a few specific comments. Firstly, I do not see great drama in terms of what the minister is spending on Manuka Oval. I do note in the committee’s report, however, that the government was more interested in investing in and further upgrading Phillip than Manuka, due to its location and surrounding amenities, and that it estimated the upgrade would cost $1.5 million.
I think Phillip is a very nice facility and obviously, if it is to remain a facility, it does need upgrading. The government should, however, realise that the previous government did look at both of those facilities and initially was going to spend about $9 million on Phillip, but it was because of AFL and cricket that ultimately that was done at Manuka as the preferred venue. I know there are lots of attractions in parking and such like around Phillip, but Manuka has its attractions too, so I await with interest the government’s plans there now. I just hope that they will take into account the views of the users and the sporting community.
I will make a few comments in relation to the legal areas. The committee was interested, as we all are, in the costs associated with the Eastman case to date. In fact, they are quite