Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 15 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 December 2005) . . Page.. 4731 ..
They also have now, which they did not have before, an avenue to the commissioner to have the matter looked into. Under the regime of those opposite, the chief officer could say, “I don’t like the way you are wearing your orange overalls, so don’t come on Monday.” They had the power to do that. Not any more, they do not.
There are protections afforded to the volunteers. The protections that are afforded to them, in fact, mirror those protections that exist in the general public service. We allow people in the public service generally to appeal to the Ombudsman and to make a complaint under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. We protect them against unfair dismissal. We find that those protections are currently under threat by those people on the hill, the soul mates of those people opposite who would defend the withdrawal of rights.
This government is about creating, strengthening and enhancing the rights of people who work under the authority of the Stanhope government. We are not about whittling away the rights and the privileges of our employees. We value our employees. We do not come out every second Tuesday and say, “They are getting paid too much.” We do not say that about our people.
We do not dishonour them regularly in the media, as Mr Pratt is wont to do—dishonour them regularly. If he is not criticising emergency services, he is criticising police officers.
If he is not criticising police officers, he is criticising the fire brigade.
I have answered his question. I do not know what part of “we will protect them against you” he does not understand.
MR PRATT: Thank you, minister, for a nice bag of spin.
MR SPEAKER: Come to the question.
MR PRATT: Minister, what is your government so afraid of that it has imposed this extreme gag on ESA volunteers?
MR HARGREAVES: The answer to that question is: we are supremely afraid of John Howard’s industrial laws.
Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, under standing order 118 (a): the minister is debating the subject. He has to answer the question.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Pratt asked Mr Hargreaves what he was afraid of. He is responding to the question.
MR HARGREAVES: I am afraid that the disease—
Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the question was not: what is the minister afraid of? The question was: what is your government so afraid of that it has imposed this gag on ESA volunteers?