Page 3829 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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The concerns that members of the Labor Party are raising are not about our privileged positions, with our good salaries, our cars and our ability to make flexible workplace decisions. They are about the people we represent in the community that do not have the flexibilities we have. As legislators our job, I would have thought, is to improve the lives of others, to improve the protections, to improve the standard of living and to improve the opportunities for children and generations to come. Obviously, that is not something that is shared by members of the opposition sitting across from me. Certainly, we know that it is not shared by the federal government.

We look forward to the secrecy being lifted off the legislation. The only reason I say that we look forward to it is that for the first time, unlike Mr Mulcahy with his briefing spanning back months, we will be able to see what the laws mean and how the federal government will be legislating. Will they be legislating across the field, as they allude to in some of their policy documents? Once we have that detail, we will be able to look at the legislative powers of the ACT, the current legislation concerning parental leave, long service leave and annual leave, and see what we can do to protect the ACT community from some of these changes, if we have any capacity at all. You can be certain that that is work that we will be doing. We will not be just sitting here and saying that, because life is good for us, we do not have to worry about anybody else.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.20): Given the matter of public importance and several questions yesterday and the two motions on the notice paper today pertaining to the federal government’s industrial relations changes, I think it is clear that I do not need to put all the details of the Greens’ position and analysis of these matters on the table in this debate as there will be plenty more opportunities. So, in responding to this motion, I am going to focus on the notion of truth in advertising.

According to the Liberal Party of Australia, the last federal election was about trust. In reality, of course, it was more about fear. As one of the Australian Greens, I was surprised at the ferocity of unfounded fear-based attacks on us that were kicked off by the federal government at the start of that election and perpetuated by News Ltd and some of the Christian right. More broadly, however, the key component of the campaign against the Labor Party was the fear of interest rate rises, with the fear of job losses, the fear of terrorism and the fear of intellectuals thrown in on the side.

I think that it is important to remind the Assembly that the WorkChoices changes were not flagged during the 2004 election. I wonder what view Tasmania’s CFMEU forestry division now has of John Howard and the government that they helped to return. Perhaps part of the price of the forest deal was their silence. We will see. Therefore, it has been entertaining that the fear campaign run by the ACTU has got under the skin of the Liberal Party so much.

This motion makes mention of the massive investment of public money in promoting the federal government’s policy to simplify the industrial relations regime across Australian and unpick many of the protections that have developed over the past 100 years. To call the scheme “WorkChoices” suggests that it is a choice for all. “Choice” is a high-value word in the conservative/business free-market lexicon. Of course, in this context, choice is a red herring. Ironically, its use increases as the actual range of choices for ordinary people decreases and is increasingly determined by their income. Similarly, the rationale

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