Page 4212 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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MS GALLAGHER: I think that it is an interesting subject, one on which I have sympathy with the Speaker of the Assembly, in the sense that the policy documents under the WorkChoices legislation and the legislation itself make it pretty clear that collective bargaining arrangements are distasteful to the federal government. Certainly, a major push of that legislation is for negotiating individually with employees and moving them away from any kind of collective representation. In fact, we know now that in some cases, by asking for collective representation, you will get a $33,000 fine. Even for employers who say that they would prefer to bargain collectively and not to deal with individuals a $33,000 fine will apply. But it is an interesting subject.

On the flipside, the notion of collective employer representation is not dealt with under the legislation, that is, the desire to negotiate individually with businesses, with the employers of employees. So, on one level, collective bargaining and collective representation from an employee perspective should not be encouraged—

Mr Stanhope: Should be rendered illegal.

MS GALLAGHER: Should be illegal and fines should apply. Yet on the employers’ side, representations from, say, the business council, ABL or the chamber are entirely appropriate; in fact, more weight should be given to that collective representation of employer interests than should be given to employee interests. It is an interesting conundrum, I think, for us to consider in terms of how we deal with our stakeholders in the community. I intend to continue to collectively bargain and the government will continue to collectively bargain with employees. I will certainly take any meeting requests from any organisation in Canberra very seriously. I determine whom I meet with. I cannot think of an organisation that I have refused to meet with. I will not be changing my position on how we bargain and how we negotiate in relation to industrial relations on either side. We will continue to speak to employers and we will continue to speak to employees. Where we can, certainly from my point of view, we will be doing that collectively.

MR MULCAHY: I have a supplementary question. Has Mr Berry been successful in persuading any of his Labor colleagues to follow this closed-door approach to industrial relations?

MR SPEAKER: I must say that I do not know what my actions have to do with the Minister for Industrial Relations, but I am sure that she will be able to apply a good enough answer to the supplementary question.

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Speaker, in relation to the industrial relations matters for which I have responsibility, I get numerous meeting requests. I imagine that I will continue to get meeting requests and I will determine which meetings I hold with whomever wants a meeting with me.

Industrial relations

MR GENTLEMAN: Whilst we are on industrial relations, my question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations. I understand that the ACT government recently declared Christmas Day and New Year’s Day public holidays under the ACT Holidays

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