Page 3409 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 20 September 2005

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The success of the Australian economy in the past 10 years is because wage increases have been based on productivity gains. But Mr Combet wants to reverse this principle. He wants to base wage increases on the volatile movements of one commodity, that is, petrol prices. The ACTU wants to add further costs to the increasing cost of business, limiting growth and jeopardising businesses’ ability to provide long-term, stable employment for workers.

This is at a time when, through prudent economic policy, interest rates are going down, something that those opposite would not remember. It has become a feature of our current Australian government. We have seen a 14 per cent increase in real wages to workers since 1996, since the election of the current Australian government. Yet the ALP, when it had its turn at the helm, could only provide 1.2 per cent growth in wages in 13 years in government—at a time, it should be pointed out, when our Chief Minister was an adviser to the current Opposition Leader, Mr Beazley.

Time is limited, but I think it is appropriate to draw the attention of the Assembly to this rather extraordinary claim by Mr Combet. It is a desperate attempt at seeking popularism because people are concerned about the cost of fuel. But his solution of inflating wages is certainly not going to deliver households the relief they need.

Calwell high school—roundtable

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.06): Today we have heard debate on the state of education in ACT schools. Let me give you a short personal account of how the education system is working in Calwell, in my suburb. Just yesterday I had the pleasure of taking part in the Calwell high school exhibition round table.

The exhibition series, for this year, focused on what it is like to be a teenager in 2005 and comprised students from Calwell high preparing a detailed brief on allocated subjects and then presenting it to a roundtable panel. Roundtable panellists constituted teachers from the school itself, departmental officials, members of the Australian Education Union and other representatives like me.

Students were also encouraged to work on a topic of their own choice within the guidelines. This allowed students to become excited about their particular topic, and that showed clearly as they presented their individual choices to the roundtable. Let us face it, after all most people may not find it exciting to present a demonstration on maths. But when it comes to music or sport, that is a whole different ballgame. I was given detailed accounts of the students’ passions for motorcycling, music and web-page design.

A budding motorcycle mechanic gave us a rundown on his weekend passion of riding on his dad’s farm and repairing his bike on the roadside when needed. I felt some affiliation with this budding engineer and shared my experiences of riding and repairing when I was his age. I was then surprised to find out, by explanation, that Mr Clive Haggar from the AEU also rode bikes at an early age. He, too, shared his experiences at the roundtable. This sharing of knowledge and experiences allowed the student to become at ease with the process of his first-ever interview. He attained more knowledge and preparedness for the next time he presents, perhaps to his first-ever employer.

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