Page 1844 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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(1) a Select Committee on Working Families in the Australian Capital Territory be appointed to examine the effect on working families in relation to health costs, effects of industrial relations changes, adjustments by the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the allocation of funds by the Commonwealth, impacts on current or potential ACT legislation by the Commonwealth and any other related matter;

(2) the Committee be composed of:

(a) two members to be nominated by the Government; and

(b) one member to be nominated by the Opposition;

to be notified in writing to the Speaker within four hours after the passing of this resolution;

(3) the Committee report by the first sitting day in August 2006 and that the Committee also provide interim reports on its progress; and

(4) the foregoing provisions of this resolution so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders.

This motion for the formation of a Select Committee on Working Families in the Australian Capital Territory is a response to questions directly from those families in the ACT. It is with dismay that we note recent statements from the federal government advising that they will remove or change legislation that will affect the lives of ACT families. The changes notified include changes to the Medicare safety net, the withdrawal of commonwealth grants to the ACT, the reduction of funding of community groups, industrial relations issues, and the introduction of voluntary student unionism.

The charter of this select committee is to look at the changes or proposed changes to federal legislation that will affect working families in the ACT and, further, the actual legislation that is current or proposed that may cause the ACT government to change its current or proposed legislation.

The Prime Minister and the federal Treasurer, minister for industrial relations and minister for health, as well as state governments and peak bodies such as the ACTU, have all advised that the process has begun. The federal government has advised that, with the introduction of a new Senate midway through this year, any legislation to do with these matters already being held up in the Senate will pass through.

The federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, has advised that the federal government will severely reduce allowable matters in basic awards. They will take away the power from the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, our foremost independent arbitrator, to set minimum wages. Many Canberrans working under awards rely on this arbitrator to set their minimum wage so they do not fall below the poverty line.

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