Page 3976 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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injuring anyone, that it is destined rather to benefit all, because it is of absolute interest to the State that those citizens should not be miserable in every respect from whom such necessary goods proceed.

Such was the comment of Pope Leo XIII in 1891. As I said earlier, it still holds today. It pertains particularly to this matter of public importance because, as I would remind the house, the matter of public importance that we are discussing today is the impact on young people, women and the disadvantaged in the ACT of the federal government’s proposed industrial relations changes.

So I would remind those opposite, and I would remind Minister Andrews, that it is not just those of us today but it is those of us over time as well who would like to see fairness and social justice being delivered to all who have concerns about the way people are treated in the work force. That is why Labor, both in the ACT and federally, is very concerned with the proposed changes. When I say “Labor”, I refer to both the political and the industrial arms of the movement. This is not just rhetoric; this is genuine concern for what will come about as a result of these proposed changes, which are still secret, which are still not being shown.

We have, obviously, the WorkChoices rhetoric booklet which has been put out. But that does not put forward, in black and white, what the legislation is. Here we have our Minister for Industrial Relations, every other state minister for industrial relations and every worker in this country being expected to believe the advertising campaign that is out and about by the federal tory government. Quite frankly, I do not trust them. I want to see it in black and white. Until such time as I see it in black in white, I am sorry but I cannot believe that they are not going to try to do the workers over.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (4.56): I had not planned to speak on this, but Ms MacDonald has a way of bringing me to my feet. I felt I just had to respond to some of her comments. I am amazed at the extensive quoting of Catholic documents. I wonder what will become the status in the ACT government now of Rerum novarum. I look forward to its being incorporated into ACT law. Of course, there is that whole thing about separation of church and state that we are constantly reminded about; so perhaps that will not happen. The obsession with this 115-year-old, turn of the 20th century, document from 1890-something is fascinating to me. It is a bit like the industrial relations system that the Labor Party would like us to go back to. It is about that old.

Ms MacDonald seems obsessed with whether people in this chamber are Catholic or otherwise. I see that as a sort of sectarian attack: if you are Catholic and church leaders say something, you have to do what they say. I do not take orders from anyone as to how I vote in this place. I make decisions based on the merits of a particular policy, proposal or legislation. To suggest that, because a particular church leader—who has been completely misquoted by Karin MacDonald—said something, I should turn around and say, “Oh my goodness! Of course, I’m Catholic; I have to do that” is absolute rubbish. It is a sectarian attack. You certainly would not say that an atheist leader said something and therefore Mr Stanhope, or whoever else, needs to follow it. It is absolute rubbish, it is sectarianism at its worst and it has no place in the debate. Let us debate it on the merits.

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