Page 4485 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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In the space of just 24 hours, the Federal Government has undermined the working conditions and cherished lifestyle fought for by the parents and grandparents of today’s workers.

Incredibly extreme statements like that are going to look as foolish down the track as were those statements from Mr Beazley back in 1996 when he predicted gloom and doom and the end of our life as we know it. So much of it is empty rhetoric. The Chief Minister plays to the gallery and is more intent on drumming up political points than genuinely informing people. The Chief Minister cannot accept a prime minister to take him seriously when he constantly tries to distort facts in this fashion.

The Minister for Industrial Relations, in her own words, has “slammed the federal government over the workplace reforms” and has labelled the legislation “a direct attack on working Australians”. After that diatribe, she then whines when she cannot get a meeting with the federal minister. We hear of all these supposed requests, but I have been struggling to find anyone up there who can confirm these applications for meetings. She abuses him and then wonders why there is no-one making any effort to invite her to the front of the queue.

She is plainly wrong in saying that the workplace reforms would stifle the ACT and Australian economies, as she said in the Canberra Times on 3 November. Indeed, very much the opposite is the case. We will have more flexibility and choice of arrangements; workplace productivity will increase; and so will economic activity and the living standards of the ACT community. We can still make progress even on our 3.1 per cent unemployment figures.

The ACT minister threatens to do all she can to resist the changes and then wonders why her federal colleague is not interested in hearing a repetition of her negative rhetoric. She was going to change the laws, bring in new legislation and overturn it and then, a day or so later, somebody obviously gave her a bit of constitutional advice and that great initiative went out the door.

We have seen very recently this conflict with the commonwealth over the antiterrorism legislation. We saw the Chief Minister break confidentiality and show disdain for the commitment that had been made in that meeting with his state Labor colleagues and the Prime Minister. Even his state Labor colleagues, who acknowledge the argument for informing the public, thought what Mr Stanhope did in breaking his undertaking of the Prime Minister was inappropriate. Regrettably, it shows that he cannot be—

Mr Stanhope: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I did not break any undertaking. That statement was simply false.

MR SPEAKER: It is a debatable point, which I am sure you will—

Mr Stanhope: It is not a debatable point at all. The member has absolutely no information that I broke any undertaking that I gave the Prime Minister. I gave no undertaking to the Prime Minister at all. It was quite a serious—

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