Page 2668 - Week 08 - Friday, 1 July 2005

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who he regards as the finest in the world. The troops certainly credit him. He would be one of the finest officers we have ever seen.

Peter Cosgrove has conducted himself in the finest traditions of the Australian army and the Australian Defence Force and, as a soldier, he will be greatly missed. He will hopefully have a bit more time to engage in a number of his other passions. He plays golf and is a very keen rugby man. When he came back to RMC, compulsory sport was not on the curriculum and had not been for some time. Peter Cosgrove saw that sport was so important for the development of junior officers that he wanted to get them back playing compulsory sport, especially his beloved rugby. I was delighted to be able to assist him there. He is patron of a number of organisations including the ACT vets where, like the rest of us, he is sensible enough not to play. When he was general officer commanding in East Timor he sent a magnificent, stirring message to the Wallabies immediately before their World Cup grand final which was read out to the team by Rod McQueen. As Rod relayed to me later, it was a very emotional time.

I do not think Peter is going to be much use to Lynn in the kitchen; she reckons he needs a compass to find his way around there, but he certainly will be able to spend a lot more time with Lynn and his family. To Peter Cosgrove—an extraordinary soldier, an extraordinary Australian—I say thank you on behalf of our little ACT community; and well done on a brilliant job. I am sorry. Mr Pratt served with him too, I am told. Pratty was his 2IC back in 1976.

Industrial relations

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (10.41): I rise today to talk about an important issue facing many in our community in the context of the federal government’s proposed changes to industrial relations law. This debate necessarily occurs within the context of the “your rights at work” campaign currently being run by the labour movement. Owner-drivers, particularly owner-drivers of trucks in the ACT, operate in a largely unregulated industrial environment. They are the poster children of the deregulated market economy, small business owners who operate on a contract basis and compete for business and ensure market efficiency in the transport sector. Well, that is the idea, anyway. In reality, what comes with this freedom is a lack of protection for owner-drivers, many of whom face steep repayments on their vehicles and stiff competition to win contracts of carriage that keep their incomes ticking over.

Many owner-drivers have standing arrangements with decent employers. Some do not, however, and these drivers are offered no protection at all. In a deregulated industry this comes only in the form of goodwill protection from genuine and fair employers. For these drivers, unfair contracts are pretty much tough luck. There are few avenues of redress for unfair contracts and there are no minimum standards with which contracts of carriage must comply. These contracts are individually negotiated and in many cases are not deemed to be employment contracts. As a result, they do not invoke the historical protections of employment relationship. In fact, these contracts invoke no protections at all, and in many cases are subject to the whim of head contractors, operators and employers.

I recently heard of an ACT owner-driver who has been working as a courier, couriering for an ACT company—in fact an agent of the federal government. This courier is

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