Page 3611 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005

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Qantas has been aware of the short-staffing issues there for years, are aware of the overworking of their employees and have put them at serious risk of injury. They are aware of the member of their staff who is on his 13th compensation claim in his 11 years of employment. They are aware that the time between plane arrivals is insufficient to allow employees adequate time to rest their bodies. Mr Hocking recalled that, in a two-week period, a colleague had worked a total of 207 hours; 127 of these were overtime hours. That is three times any normal work demand. If that is not ringing alarm bells, then I just cannot think of what would.

Mr Hocking stated that he and his colleagues have been pushed to the limit to ensure that staffing levels were maintained and departures went out on time. Mr Hocking’s limit has been broken. Qantas uses these people like machines, just like you treat your washer on overload: put them on, burn them out and sack them.

Surely a company that posted an annual net profit of $763 million, up 17 per cent on the previous year, could spare some of this money to ensure adequate staffing and safety levels in Canberra. I want to make clear that I have no problems with Qantas making so much money. I encourage business to thrive and to share the rewards of hard work with its employees, but I abhor profits stemming from putting worker safety at risk.

Mr Mulcahy said yesterday that the ACT industrial legislation prohibits the growth of business in Canberra. Occupational health and safety legislation is not about punishing employers; it is about ensuring the fundamental right of workers to a safe working environment. It is shameful that a company that markets itself as an Australian icon could abuse its employees so blatantly. I urge Qantas to rethink its strategy when dealing with employees; be compassionate. These people have chosen to make a career with your company, not end it.

Dr Kevin Donnelly
51st CPA conference

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (6.07): I have a preliminary comment first. Poor old Dr Kevin Donnelly! I heard him being slagged off here on Tuesday by my colleague—

Mrs Burke: And Wednesday.

MR PRATT: And Wednesday too, Mrs Burke. He got a second serve. I thought that I would defend the poor chap, the poor old bugger. Here I am referring to his expertise. Dr Donnelly is well qualified to speak in the arena of education. His book, in fact, has been well received across this country. He is a regular commentator, like Michael Costello by the way, in the mainstream and more interesting areas of the media. But the ALP union-radical left coalition over there that dominate education would have no truck with him, would they? That may have been the root cause of that flare-up about the poor old doctor.

If I may now celebrate the 51st CPA conference that I was most honoured to attend in Fiji. I appreciated that opportunity and I thank the Assembly, my colleagues here and my colleagues broadly for that opportunity. The detail of that trip and the more serious issues will be covered in my report to the branch, but a couple of issues are worth mentioning here.

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