Page 3456 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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Wales abattoir. The same 100 employees that were made redundant last year were all taken back on casual contracts. One such contract was offered to Bernie Boxsell who had worked at the same abattoir for 17 years until he was laid off last year due to drought. If given a choice, Mr Boxsell stated that he would choose a permanent position with the entitlements that he enjoyed for 17 years over the new contract. Mr Boxsell said:

I liked the old way when you got a certain wage every week and you got your holidays. There was stability, but it’s not like that anymore.

Mr Boxsell has no choice. Like most workers faced with Australian workplace agreements, the option is to take it or leave it—take a 24-hour contract that tomorrow may not even exist, or go without employment.

Family-friendly provisions, permanent employment—these are not the only things lost under flexible arrangements. ABS statistics state that under collective agreements, non-managerial staff earned on average $24.10 per hour compared with $23.10 under AWAs. There is a growing coalition of opposition to the federal government’s legislation.

ABS statistics state that 21.3 per cent of Canberrans are union members, with anecdotal evidence that the union movement is experiencing growth. That is in direct contrast to Mr Mulcahy’s statement of union membership at 17 per cent. Perhaps Mr Mulcahy should concentrate on his electorate here in the ACT. Efforts of individual unions, like the Transport Workers Union with their recent convoy to Capital Hill, are activating their membership in new and creative ways. They are putting forward their members’ views, as they should.

Mr Speaker, I put it to you that either the union membership quoted by Mr Mulcahy or the real figure for the ACT of some 33,800 far outweighs the registered vote for Mr Mulcahy. The new proposed leader of the Liberal Party had some 6,583 votes and the next deputy, Vicki Dunne, had some 3,367—not even 10 per cent of the union vote. I urge Mr Mulcahy to consider this when advocating that there be no minimum wage rise, as he did yesterday, or supporting the removal of workers’ conditions, as he did here today.

Mr Speaker, we in the Assembly have an obligation to working families in the ACT. This motion calls on the federal government to meet its obligation and consult with the ACT government about the proposed changes to ensure that no worker will be worse off. I urge members to support this motion.

Question put:

That Mr Gentleman’s motion be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

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