Page 1850 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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Mr Speaker, I have had an amendment circulated in my name. I move:

Paragraph (3), omit “August 2006”, substitute “December 2005”.

If we are really serious about having this inquiry, I think it could probably be done in three or four months, but let’s give the government the benefit of the doubt and take it out to December of this year. My amendment is quite simple. It says that, if we are serious about having a select committee on working families in the ACT, clearly we will want the answer in six or seven months, not in 16 months. I am sure that the Labor Party will agree that, on such an important issue, we should actually have the answer by the end of the year.

Members have to remember that it is not just a matter of the committee work; there is then the government’s response. If this committee actually reports in August 2006, as proposed, its report cannot have any influence on an ACT budget until 2007, because in about October or November 2006 the next round of budget preparations starts for impact in May 2007.

Mrs Burke: Just in time for the next election.

MR SMYTH: Mrs Burke, how can you suggest that this is about the next election! Mr Gentleman said that it is about working families in the ACT. The timing of this motion is all wrong. The timing is an appalling indictment of the Labor Party’s attitude towards families and the genuineness of their commitment to improving the lot of working families in the ACT.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.26): The government will be supporting Mr Gentleman’s motion, with a reporting time of August 2006. There are a couple of reasons for that. My understanding of that from discussions with Mr Gentleman—I am sure that he will expand on this when he closes the debate or speaks to the amendment—is that the committee will be in a position to hand out interim reports before that time and that the significant legislative changes to be faced by ACT families, notably in relation to industrial relations, and the impact of those changes, will take some time for a committee to analyse.

Even if that legislation were to be put into parliament in May, it would not be debated until after July and then we would see some impact. We expect to see significant impacts flowing from that and the committee will need time to look at them. It will need time to talk to witnesses who will be affected by the proposed legislative changes and to inquire properly into those changes. It would not be possible for the committee to do that work and report by December 2005, taking into consideration all of the input that will be sought based on the legislative changes. We have not even seen what the legislation is going to be.

Opposition members interjecting—

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