Page 3866 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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agent is to protect your conditions, not to trade them all away, and then have to pay your bargaining agent for the gift of doing that.

Seriously, if some of the examples in that book were not going to be the reality for many people in the ACT, you could sit here, laugh at them and say, “How ridiculous is this,” because of the scenarios that are put there. But this will be the reality for workers in the ACT next year. And it is very important to understand and to accept that, unless there is a huge change—and I am in no doubt that Mr Mulcahy is lobbying the federal government in his briefings with them on the importance of protecting ACT workers from these changes—this will be the reality for children looking to enter the labour market from next year. This will be the playing field that they start on.

As I have said, perhaps those who are more advantaged and have mum and dad to lobby for jobs on their behalf—maybe go overseas and look after their interests over there—and make sure that they are protected from the more ruthless employers out there, will do okay in this brave new world. There is no doubt that the protections will not be the same for the majority of people who are going to go down to their local fast food outlet, who are going to be seeking employment in major chains or for those young people entering the market next year.

In relation to women: ministers for women around the country have joined together and written an open letter about the changes and the concerns that we see for women and the industrial relations impact on them. We know that women on individual agreements already get paid significantly less than men doing the same job. On average, women get paid $5.10 less an hour than men. We know that only 7 per cent of registered secret individual contracts make a provision for maternity leave. We already know this data. We know that women on collective agreements earn around 11 per cent more than women on individual agreements, and we know that family friendly conditions, those kinds of conditions that help you make the choice about work and the hours you work, are not core components of any individual workplace agreement, as they are when we are looking at awards and collective agreements.

We know that these changes are going to have a significant impact on women. It is not only women’s ability to get equal pay for an equal job and to stand on a level playing field with men—and there has been a significant area of restructuring and community support for the idea that men and women should be treated equally in the workplace—but, for many women, getting a job now is simply not going to be a reality. We know more women than men work on minimum rates and we know the example Mr Mulcahy gave earlier about hotel cleaners or people working in the hospitality industry. They are predominantly women, predominantly casual and predominantly working on the minimum wage. These are all conditions that are in the firing line. For many women, the choice will no longer be a choice. That is where the title WorkChoices is—

Ms Porter: It is ridiculous.

MS GALLAGHER: It is a choice for some. It should be called “choice for some and not for others”. It certainly is not taking into account the particular situation of vulnerable groups within our community. If your minimum wage is going to stay static for the next year, if you are not going to have the protections of shift penalties and other penalty rates, which make it easy for you to go to work because you get a bit of double time on

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