Page 4119 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

for change in industrial relations. It was some six months after the federal election. There was no mention of this in the federal election campaign, and one wonders why. But six months after that all the plans are outlined. There is no legislation, of course—just a vision, or lack of vision, that is being presented by the federal government.

I congratulate the ACTU for their efforts today and also the affiliated unions who have worked tirelessly running campaigns and public gatherings against these changes. They will continue to do so. As Greg Combet said today, this meeting is the first day of the campaign for change. It is by no means the last meeting before the federal government pushes through its legislation, but the first meeting of a community campaigning for progressive change to this conservative agenda.

Yesterday I had the opportunity, along with my state and territory colleagues for industrial relations, to appear before the Senate committee to speak to the joint submission that state and territory governments provided in respect of the proposed changes. In relation to the ACT, we highlighted in our submission and in evidence the issues, as we saw them, particularly issues concerning the impact of the legislation on women. The legislation will have a disproportionate effect on women in relation to flexibility of employment and in relation to any sort of family-friendly conditions. We already know the impact of AWAs on women. It was an important message to give to the Senate.

MR SPEAKER: The member’s time has expired.

MR GENTLEMAN: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, you mentioned the Senate committee inquiry. Will there be enough time to consider the detail of the 687 pages of the bill?

MS GALLAGHER: This is an important matter. We got our copy of the legislation when we downloaded it from the web and started working through the detail of it. Maybe Mr Mulcahy got his copy early. We know he has links up there. He may have had his little secret copy marked “Mulcahy in confidence”. He is the only person in Australia that would get it beforehand. Perhaps Mr Mulcahy has had a little longer than all of us to take in the detail of the legislation.

The state and territory governments had seven days to provide a submission to the Senate committee. We were able to provide a comprehensive submission that outlined our major areas of concern. That Senate inquiry will sit for five days. That is five days to consider 580 pages of legislation with another several hundred pages of explanatory memoranda. This is, of course, after it was pushed through the House of Representatives in 24 hours. Debate on the floor was gagged. Members of parliament were not able to talk about legislation that impacts so significantly and presents the biggest change in the way that ordinary Australians work. Members of parliament representing the Australian community were shut down and not allowed to speak to legislation that is going to set those parameters. The member for Canberra was not able to deliver her speech and had to apply to have it incorporated into Hansard.

This Senate inquiry will sit for five days before providing a report to the Senate by 22 November. It is expected that the legislation will be rammed through the Senate by the first week in December. Certainly here in the ACT we are expecting that it will come

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .