Page 3744 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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However, it is not just the independent academics who are pointing to the mistakes in the federal government’s thinking on the impact these changes will have on the economy. Mr Mark Wooden is a prominent right-wing economist who has done extensive research for the Business Council of Australia and is a prominent cheerleader for industrial relations reform. In a major embarrassment for the federal government, he, too, is opposed to the federal government’s changes. He points out that the government’s unfair dismissal proposals—

MR SPEAKER: The minister’s time has expired.

MS PORTER: Minister, can you inform the Assembly of the effect of similar changes when they were introduced in New Zealand?

MS GALLAGHER: When similar reforms to those proposed by Howard were introduced in New Zealand in the 1990s, they had a disastrous effect on productivity. David Peetz, a professor of industrial relations at Griffith University, examined the New Zealand economy from 1991 to 1996, when the country undertook a major reform of its employment landscape, including a strong push for individual contracting. In the same time period the Australian Labor government remained committed to collective enterprise bargaining. In comparing the two countries, he found that, during this period, Australia had considerably higher productivity.

The drop in New Zealand’s productivity was due to employers switching from capital-intensive methods of production to cheaper labour. This led to a growing skills shortage, as employers lost the incentive to invest in a largely disposable work force. Today, New Zealand’s Treasury working papers openly question the economic benefits of a deregulated labour market.

In short, with each day, more and more evidence is emerging which suggests that the federal government’s proposed IR changes will have a negative impact on Australia’s and, no doubt, the ACT’s economy. We here in the ACT government will do all we can to protect ACT workers from these changes, and I look forward to making announcements in the coming months on the steps we will be taking to make sure that the Canberra community is protected.

Anti-terrorism legislation

MR STEFANIAK: My question is directed to the Attorney-General. It was reported in the Canberra Times on Wednesday 28 September that, after confidential briefings, you changed your mind about supporting the commonwealth government’s anti-terror legislation. You were reported as saying:

The advice which we received is that there are people in Australia of enormous concern. Faced with blunt advice … that we do indeed face grave concerns in Australia, it really isn’t possible for any head of government to turn away and to take some other advice or to make some personal judgment on how serious the situation is, the situation is serious.

So why, after signing up to it, did you breach confidentiality by putting the commonwealth government’s legislation on the web?

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