Page 3974 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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mean lost jobs; it will be bad for the economy.” You see that year after year. There has been no evidence to show that those very small wage increases to the very lowest paid have had that impact on the economy at all.

In fact, the workplace relations minister has gone further than that and said that he believes that minimum wage earners are $70 a week overpaid; they get more than they should be entitled to and they should take a 15 per cent cut. This is essentially what he is arguing. I do not think he is arguing it for himself or for the Prime Minister. We are talking here about the impact on the disadvantaged. We believe these laws will have an unfair impact on them and we will do what we can to protect the working poor in the ACT.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.45): I want to say briefly that for my and the Greens’ opinion on this particular topic please refer to my speech yesterday in response to Ms MacDonald’s motion and on other related topics in earlier sittings. The Greens’ view on industrial relations is well known, on the record, available on the web. I commend it to you.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (4.46): Thank you, Dr Foskey. We are aware that you have spoken in support of these issues and recognise that the issue is of importance.

One might well ask why we have raised these matters so continuously this week. The fact is that it is imminent that the legislation is about to be changed federally, and we on this side of the house consider it to be a matter of such importance that we have decided to concentrate very much on it this week.

Yesterday, in my motion, I made reference to some of the comments that have been made by the Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations specifically. I also made reference to comments which have been made by George Pell; the Brotherhood of St Laurence; the Uniting Church; and Peter Jensen, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney. I also specifically referred to Rerum novarum, which was a papal encyclical, that is, a letter addressed by the Pope to his bishops in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII. The reason that I raised that was that Rerum novarum was an encyclical written on the condition of workers.

It is quite interesting for me, I have to say, as the only person in this place who is Jewish and one of the few people in this place who are not necessarily of any particular Christian denomination, to be in the situation of quoting a Catholic bishop from over 100 years ago. I am quite certain that Rerum novarum holds today as much as it did in 1891. I would like to make a few quotes from Rerum novarum which are pertinent to this matter of public importance.

It is a pity that Mr Mulcahy has left the chamber. He did make the comment yesterday when I mentioned Rerum novarum that he carries a copy with him at all times in his briefcase. Maybe he knows it word and letter. But these are the quotes that I would like to put on the record. Pope Leo XIII said:

In protecting the rights of private individuals, however, special consideration must be given to the weak and the poor. For the nation, as it were, of the rich, is guarded by its own defenses and is in less need of governmental protection, whereas the

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