Page 1941 - Week 06 - Friday, 6 May 2005

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recognises the value of employees’ corporate knowledge and the cost to industry of high staff turnover.

When it was put in place, there was no such thing as a high cost to industry of staff turnover, and it was not about the value of an employee’s corporate knowledge. What these guys, the egalitarian party, seem to be suggesting is that, if you have got more corporate knowledge and you have got higher value corporate knowledge, you should be entitled to some sort of extra long service leave. The argument in that is just ridiculous. Go back to when it was brought in. It was about if you had been there for 10 years you got a reward for long service. That is what it is about: it is called “long service leave”. It is not called “changing condition in workplace leave”. It is about, “You’ve worked for me for 10 years. Thank you very much. Here’s a bonus to have a holiday.” But that is not what it is about now.

The minister said:

The challenge for government has been to develop amendments that balance the realities of the modern workplace against the underlying policy basis for long service leave and take into account the interests of all stakeholders.

So we have redefined what the underlying policy basis for long service is, and then we go and work out what the interests of the stakeholders are. Mr Mulcahy asked the minister yesterday—I suggest he has not got it yet—to make available the business impact statement. I assume, minister, you will be doing that shortly?

Ms Gallagher: No, I won’t be.

MR SMYTH: “No, I won’t be,” she says. “We’re not going to reveal to you what our business impact statement said.” Why not, minister? What are you afraid of in releasing the business impact statement? What is it in the business impact statement that you do not want the rest of us to know? If it was a glowing endorsement of this policy, that business impact statement would not be just on the table; it would in the Canberra Times, it would be on the TV, it would be on the radio, and the minister would be out there spruiking, as they create new the Jerusalem in the ACT, about how this was good for ACT workers and employers. But the minister’s strident, “No, I won’t be releasing the business impact statement,” simply says that this business impact statement does not back up what the government is saying, and I think the minister, when she closes debate on the bill, should stand up and explain in more detail why she will not release the business impact statement.

I suspect the reason that she will not release the business impact statement is summarised rather nicely by John Robertson, Secretary of Unions New South Wales, who said that unions these days should be more worried about their own actions than those of the federal government. Referring to the federal government’s IR legislation, he said:

We need to be honest with ourselves.

These laws are not the biggest threat to the future of the labour movement, we are. … Our political wing—

That is the ALP—

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