Page 1420 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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… the Government has used the occasion of this legislation to attack the industrial rights of university staff and the democratic rights of students to form associations that provide them with services and representation. These matters are entirely dissociated from the other policy aims of the package and indicate a bewildering preoccupation with ideological concerns which have no relevance to the practical needs of students. The committee joins the almost unanimous voices of members of the higher education community in expressing dismay and alarm at the direction taken by the Government in this legislative package. It calls on the Senate to reject it in its entirety.

The potential impact of this legislation is particularly significant for the ACT because Canberra is a student town, with 16.6 per cent of our population aged between 15 to 25 years. That is substantially higher than the national average of 14.1 per cent. We currently have the highest proportion of young people of all states and territories.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Mr Rob Tonkin

MR SMYTH: My question is directed to the Chief Minister. Shortly after becoming Chief Minister, you issued a directive forbidding the use of Australian workplace agreements in the ACT public service. Why did you then, on 8 March 2004, sign an Australian workplace agreement with Robert Tonkin?

MR STANHOPE: I would have to review what I said initially in relation to AWAs, but certainly there—

Mr Pratt: The old memory again.

MR STANHOPE: No, not at all. There is a continuing need in some areas within the service for AWAs; we have always acknowledged that. We have proceeded on that basis in our management and administration, particularly in special circumstances in some areas where there are quite serious and genuine issues around the supply of certain skills and our capacity to attract and utilise certain skills within the service.

AWAs have a place; we have always acknowledged that—always. At no stage has the ALP’s—or indeed this government’s—position been that there would be an absolute move away from AWAs. Certainly they are to be discouraged. Certainly, the position that my government has adopted is that they are not to be used in the wholesale way in which they were applied previously to the detriment of good administration. We have always accepted that from time to time unique circumstances would arise that demanded the use of an AWA, and this was one such occasion.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister: what had Mr Tonkin done to earn the extra $12,000 worth of non-cash remuneration, including travel, that this AWA gave him?

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