Page 2208 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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development of civil society in Iraq, and he should be honoured for that. I celebrate and honour Doug Wood and his family Malcolm and Ruth, and Vernon from Melbourne, for their dignity, their hard work and their determination. They are an example to us all.

Industrial relations

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (6.24): Mr Speaker, as you are aware, the Stanhope government is committed to fair outcomes for all workers and supports the rights of workers to organise and collectively bargain consistent with the International Labour Organisation conventions and the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

I am sad to say that we appear to be on the cusp of great changes in the industrial relations landscape in Australia. To date, employers and employees in the ACT have worked happily together in a fair and equitable system. However, the federal coalition government, poised to take control of the Senate from July 1, has signalled an intention to return Australia to the dark days of the 19th century with measures that have been wrongly labelled industrial relations reform.

Mr Speaker, this is not the beginning of a brand new age of industrial relations. Instead, it is industrial relations revision—a revisiting of a time when employees worked without the safety net of a minimum wage, had protection from unfair dismissal and had the ability to bargain collectively. The front page of today’s Canberra Times suggested the federal government might also be considering a return to the 40-hour working week.

Mr Mulcahy: Oh, here we go!

MS GALLAGHER: Keep it coming, Richard. We want you on the record with all this stuff. Earlier this week, 17 of Australia’s leading academic researchers in industrial relations released the first comprehensive independent and expert analysis of the government’s proposed changes to workplace laws. Their report found the federal government’s proposed revisions will reduce the fairness of work for most employees and will have no direct positive impact on economic productivity or jobs growth. The ACT, like the rest of Australia, will suffer the effects of this industrial relations revision.

I would like to bring an important development in the fight to maintain the rights of workers to the attention of the Assembly. Today, Unions ACT launched their week of action to fight these so-called reforms. The week of action coincides with national action being undertaken by the ACTU. In addition to today’s launch at Parliament House, several other activities will be available for members of the Assembly to participate in the fight for the rights of ACT workers.

This Friday and Saturday, stalls will be set up at shopping centres around Canberra providing an opportunity for members of the public to discuss the changes with federal parliamentarians. I expect all those opposite will be attending those shopping centre stalls seeking out information on how it is going to affect them. In addition, these stalls will provide an opportunity for members of the public, who understandably feel frustrated by the federal government’s decision to strip back basic working people’s rights, to sign a petition calling on the Howard government to guarantee that no

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