Page 2100 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005

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MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.52) The Liberal opposition greatly values the contribution to higher education in this territory and greatly values the contributions of our tertiary institutions—all of them, not just the ones in Ms Porter’s electorate and my electorate—but I will not speak for very long on this matter of public importance. Ms Porter could only run for about nine minutes anyhow when she had 15 minutes, so I do not think it is particularly important even to her.

Ms Porter spoke very early in her presentation about politically motivated attacks of the Howard government, or words to that effect. I would think that Ms Porter’s short-run matter of public importance was nothing more than yet another politically motivated attack on the Howard government, the second in succession in the last half hour, and I do not think that it is necessary for us to grace Ms Porter’s nine-minute matter of public importance with any more comment than to say that it is politically motivated and that we should get on with the business of governing 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) (3.53): I will speak in support of Ms Porter’s matter of public importance. I thank her for bringing it to the attention of the Assembly. One of the great opportunities with MPIs is for the Assembly to engage in debates on matters of importance to the local community. Usually, during the discussion of those MPIs, there is a range of views expressed. Certainly, I have been part of a number of MPIs discussed in this place where one would question some of the time spent on debate. Obviously, the Liberals have chosen not to engage in this matter, probably the first time I can remember where they have been short of a word or two in using up their full allocation of time.

Tying funding for higher education institutions to the ability of employees to negotiate their industrial conditions is an important issue. Across all sectors, the ACT government makes no secret of its support for the rights of workers to organise and collectively bargain consistent with the International Labour Organisation conventions and the Workplace Relations Act, the law under which we operate in Australia, certainly in the ACT. We have shown that in a number of ways. One of them was in developing the ethical suppliers principles for contracting arrangements.

The ACT government has emphasised the need for employers and subcontractors to fulfil their industrial relations obligations. These obligations include complying with awards, agreements and relevant legislation. As an employer and industrial party, the ACT government has expressed its strong preference for collective bargaining. We have shown that in various ways, particularly through the way we engage in negotiations with our own staff in relation to certified agreements in the public sector.

The federal government is linking its contribution to a range of projects it funds in building and construction, higher education and the national water initiative. There is no doubt that this tying of funds is being done to enable the federal government to forcibly impose its industrial relations reforms. It has been trying to do so for a number of years but has never been able to do it. It has been the subject of funding negotiations, certainly in my ministerial areas, for almost three years. The federal government, because it could not get its way through the parliament, imposed these conditions through the agreements and made its contributions to the states dependent on the states signing up to industrial

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