Page 3868 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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workforces. We have got that flexibility within the collective agreement, and the sky has not fallen in.

Our retention rates are better than they were under Carnell. That is no surprise, considering people are being paid appropriately. But we have been able to address flexibility within the market, within a collective certified agreement. So the arguments around benefits of AWAs are simply not there.

One of the most significant changes, which we have not talked about yet but hopefully we will have more opportunity to this week, is the taking away of the no disadvantage test. Previously, if you were on an award and were moving onto an AWA, the no disadvantage test applied, that is, your AWA could not slip below the minimum rate that the award set for you. That offered some protection for people if they chose to or were pressured to move to an AWA, because there was a measure about how far the flexibility went. “This is the minimum standard. You can go above that in your AWA and you can change things around outside of those standards.”

But that has gone. There is going to be no measurement of these secret contracts at all. There will be the full minimum standard and, once you have ticked that off, everything else is up for grabs. That will be to the detriment of working people across the country. There is simply no doubt about that.

Why take a no disadvantage test away if you are not looking to disadvantage people? Why would you remove it if it has been sitting there and protecting minimum standards? We are not talking about anything glorious here, anything tremendous such as we as employees or even the people in our offices receive. We are talking about minimum standards. Why take away the no disadvantage test if you are not going to disadvantage people?

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (3.49): Obviously, this is about the third run dealing with this issue in the last two days. There have been a couple of other presentations on this subject over the last couple of months. We will, however, continue to discuss it, and I am more than happy to. I will deal with some of the matters Ms Gallagher raised and some of the matters Ms MacDonald raised. I would say that I was of the belief that we really could do better than start having a go at people’s families here. I am disappointed that that opportunity was taken.

But let me move on. There was reference to housekeepers. I gave an anecdote before lunch in another debate about an experience I had here with the interest of a couple of union officials in Sydney who would come down to Canberra when the spirit moved them to look after, supposedly, the interests of their employees. I will tell you the rest of that story, because it does not get any better for the union. In their quest to get out of town and pull a strike at the Hyatt Hotel, basically they demonstrated very little interest in the plight of these employees—to such an extent that I ended up going to the industrial commission and, as an employer representative, applied for an increase for them, because the union had been derelict in its duty for many years.

The union opposed that increase because they were acutely embarrassed by it. The commissioner was quite confused as to which side was which in this matter. We were eventually able to get catch-up increases for those people, but it certainly was an

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