Page 2899 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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test cases like the one on which it has just handed down a decision will be under threat when the new industrial relations system is introduced by the federal government. It is one area that Mr Howard has been clear on: reducing the powers of the Industrial Relations Commission.

Mr Howard suggests that the case is an example of his brave new world, where flexible employers will grant enterprise workers their every wish under gold-laced AWAs. Instead, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that only 7 per cent of AWAs registered to date have provision for maternity leave. Further, women on AWAs earn, on average, $5.10 an hour less than men, and research also suggests that secret contracts offer less flexibility for work-family balance and provide less job satisfaction. I am fearful of the impact the increased use of AWAs, unmitigated by the family test case, will have in the ACT. ABS data show that the ACT has the highest percentage of female participation in the work force of any state or territory and, further, our percentage of women in the work force with children under four is some 10 per cent higher than the national average.

Clearly, the reforms proposed by the federal government will have a major impact on the life balance of women and families in the territory. The test case currently offers hope to those families so they can strike an appropriate balance between work and families. Unfortunately, the commonwealth government is seeking to rip this right away from workers before they have had an opportunity to use it.


DR FOSKEY: My question is directed to the Chief Minister. I note the petition that you tabled on Tuesday signed by 1,516 citizens questioning the existence of an environmental study that must be approved before the proposed dragway moves beyond a feasibility study. Could you please provide the Assembly with an update on the progress of that environmental study, including who is conducting it? Could you please table the terms of reference in the Assembly by the end of the day?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you for the question, Dr Foskey. I do not have that detail. I am very aware that a range of studies is currently being undertaken in relation to the proposal to construct a dragway in the Majura Valley. There is a heritage study. There has been a study focusing particularly on prior occupation or use of the site by indigenous peoples. The heritage study is incorporating a study of issues in relation to that. There is also a continuing study in relation to noise, which, of course, has an environmental component of its own force. It is an environmental investigation. There is also, as you suggest, a further study in relation to the environment.

The dragway committee, chaired by Geoff Cannock, I know has been particularly vigorous. It is involving itself, particularly through the membership on the dragway committee of the chairs of both the north Canberra and Hackett community associations, with the communities of north Canberra in all of its work and deliberations. I know members of the committee have been very active in seeking to cover all the issues of concern to all residents within north Canberra, as well as those within the Majura Valley.

I will take advice immediately, Dr Foskey, on the documentation that is available and that could be readily provided today. I am certainly happy to take the question on notice

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