Page 3610 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005

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are familiar with the demand and the need for that additional type of commercial accommodation. The DOMA Group are putting their money where their mouth is and are building a significant, 160-bed, five-star hotel there on the Macquarie hostel site.

I was particularly pleased by the very strong endorsement that the developers of that site gave to the role played by the ACT Planning and Land Authority. They were extremely complimentary of the work and the assistance that they received from the Planning and Land Authority in facilitating the approval of the development and in facilitating the variation to the territory plan that is required for a later stage of the development. They indicated that something like their development simply would not have been able to get over the hurdles in their way four or five years ago, and they were very complimentary of the assistance and the advice they had received from the ACT Planning and Land Authority.

That only reiterates to me that we are working to change the culture and change the processes for assisting and facilitating good, sustainable development outcomes in our city. To hear it from the mouth of a major local developer that owns four hotels in Canberra, that owns a lot of other property in Canberra and that does a lot of development, is a very strong indicator to me that we are on the right track.

Industrial relations—Qantas

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.03): Yesterday in this place Mr Mulcahy waxed lyrical about the wonderful employment conditions enjoyed by workers in this country, thanks to the Howard government. This evening I wish to present a contradictory view to that of Mr Mulcahy. I wish to present a real situation. I want to share with this Assembly the appalling actions undertaken by Qantas Airways against Ross Hocking, a member of the Transport Workers Union and a resident of Gordon in my electorate of Brindabella.

Ross has worked for Qantas in Canberra for some 14 years as a baggage handler. In winter the temperature on the tarmac falls below zero degrees regularly; in summer it hits 40 degrees. This is tough work, and the handlers rely on each other to ensure that the job gets done. This year Ross sustained his fifth injury whilst working at Qantas—yes, his fifth injury. Years of lifting and loading 25-kilo bags in the belly of aeroplanes has taken its toll. As a result of his injury, Mr Hocking cannot return to his job as a baggage handler.

Just two weeks and two days after Mr Hocking had been injured, Qantas decided to terminate his employment. Mr Hocking believes he has been unfairly treated. He is concerned about his future employment prospects and is worried about how he will meet his mortgage repayments. He stands to lose up to three-quarters of a million dollars in wages and entitlements in potential earnings.

Mr Hocking’s injury did not have to happen. On any given morning, one to two-person crews, depending on the type of aeroplane, are expected to unload and reload up to 250 mailboxes and up to 130 bags, each weighing an average of 16 kilos, in the space of 30 minutes. With international baggage changeover on a domestic flight, the baggage handlers are expected to unload and reload up to 150 bags in just 35 minutes. These bags weigh up to 32 kilos.

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