Page 3834 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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what these changes will mean and being honest about the kind of workplace relations system we will have as a result of these changes.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (11.38), in reply: Those opposite call on us to wait and see how the changes will work in practice. I am not sure that they realise what they are suggesting with such a piece of advice. Wait to see if you can negotiate fair and just working conditions from a position that can only be described as highly vulnerable. Wait to see what is lost and then complain afterwards. You have got to be joking! This is a very risky strategy and, I am afraid, after the event is almost always too late. We can all have 20/20 vision after the event. However, it will not serve our community well if we sit here and wait for the tsunami of Howard’s reforms to overwhelm us just because it was not entirely clear what would happen once the waves of disaster hit.

Let us have another quote from Senator Fielding’s article yesterday. He said:

The managing partner of a national legal firm has instructed his staff that “you don’t say ‘Sorry, I can’t do it, I’m playing cricket on the weekend.’ You don’t have a right to any free time.” Fancy trying to negotiate a family-friendly agreement with him, even if you are a lawyer?

I was reminded by something Dr Foskey said of Mr Costello’s call during the Year of the Volunteer when he said, “If everybody in our community gave up one hour a week to volunteer, then all of the social ills of our country would be solved.” That is simplistic nonsense, I must admit. However, Mr Costello had better pray that people will have even an hour.

If we have such a wonderful federal government and we have such wonderful employment figures, as those opposite have been telling us, why are they spending so much money on convincing us that we need change? The sum of $100 million is to be spent on plastering deceptive ads all over our newspapers and our television screens. Innocent workers are being used as cannon fodder by the Howard government.

Despite the spin doctors, the opinion polls still show massive opposition from the unions, which is to be expected, from 80 per cent of the public, from churches, from ACOSS—the list keeps growing. This government stands up for the people of the ACT. When will those opposite ever do that? As I have said, under the federal constitution, the commonwealth has the power to legislate for both the ACT and the NT in any matter using its territories power. If ACT legislation is inconsistent with commonwealth legislation, the commonwealth legislation prevails.

The commonwealth government has already announced that it will use its territories power to impose this legislation on the ACT. Very little consultation has been entered into between the ACT and the commonwealth and it is almost certain that the ACT will not see the legislation before it is introduced, even if members opposite have. They say, “Just wait and see.” I am afraid that that will be too late. As I have said, the ACT will be used as a guinea pig for these changes, even if the states decide to begin a High Court challenge against the government.

We know those opposite are not game to disagree with their political masters. I ask of you again: do not let yourselves be slaves to those who would return us to the poor laws

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