Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 October 2005) . . Page.. 3831 ..
because this is the home front and it is very likely that the ACT government and other governments will have to pick up some of the pieces.
The notion of full employment is an interesting one. It is one that is promulgated by the government. We are hearing a lot of talk at the moment about the industrial relations systems of China and the US. However, I do not think that most Australians would like to have our economy run in their way. We have Mr Howard saying that Germany has a stagnant economy. However, he does not say that 15 years ago Germany, one of the most affluent countries in the world, took in the economically bankrupt east and is still sorting out the ramifications of that.
Let us not put down the welfare provisions of the German economy and let us remember that when we talk about industrial change. There are models apart from the US model and there are models apart from the spin-doctoring one of the US government and the corporates that the Howard government is taking its lessons from. The key difference in Australia is that we choose to define the employed as anyone with one hour of work or more a week. In Germany, the employed are defined as those with 15 hours of work or more a week.
One way that the ACT can engage intelligently with the debate and the presumptions that underpin it is to choose the terms of reference: so, let us address underemployment in the ACT and let us get the figures on what is really happening in Australia and not accept the gloss of federal spin.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (11.30): I will not speak too long on this motion because I think Mr Mulcahy has successfully destroyed much of the tenor of the motion, but I will add a few points. I guess you could classify it as a “we’ll all be rooned” motion. It is one of those. It has the tenor that life as we know it will not be the same. I have no doubt that members of the Assembly will be saying today, because I am sure that this motion will be passed, “We’ll all be rooned and life will just change irrevocably.”
Ms MacDonald: Life as you know it will not change because you are not subject to a minimum award.
MR SESELJA: Plenty of people are subject to one and plenty of people are pretty happy. I want to go to some of Ms Gallagher’s arguments. She said, “We are not here for ourselves. We are here to represent others and to make the lives of others better.” I absolutely agree with that, and I am sure that there is no-one in this Assembly who genuinely would not agree with that. I guess I need to ask Ms Gallagher to say which part of a 14 per cent increase in real wages she does not agree with or does not think is making the lives of people better.
Unemployment is at five per cent. That makes life pretty good. It was 11 per cent under Keating. I would have thought life would be better with unemployment at five per cent. If I had been unemployed and I was one of those millions of people who got a job in the last 10 years, I would say life is better. Interest rates were at 18 per cent, but not any more. They are down to around six or seven per cent, which is making life better for the average punter. I would say that that is a pretty good thing. I would say that it is something we can be pretty proud of.