Page 4766 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005

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Some of my suggestions this time were taken on board, which was good, and that is reflected in a couple of the recommendations. If this is the new way we are going to be working together, I certainly look forward to the committee working together in the future and putting together recommendations that sometimes, even if government does not necessarily like them, will be good recommendations where the committee will be holding the government to account. I agree with Mr Gentleman that we worked together better on this one. I thank the other members of the committee for that.

I also was in the odd position of having Ms Porter agree with me on something. She knew I would raise this. It was probably the first time that Ms Porter and I have voted against Mr Gentleman. That was fascinating. I do not know what has brought about this sudden change, but may there be many more instances like it.

I want to speak to some of the recommendations before turning to some of my dissenting comments. The first recommendation is particularly important. It is clear that for some time we have been hearing in a number of forums about the need for additional funds for the Office of the Commissioner for the Environment. I cannot remember off the top of my head the exact funding each year, but I know it is not very much. A small increase would probably make quite a significant difference. That is a good recommendation.

Recommendation 2, which was in relation to the ACT government investigating better methods for disclosing the accounting value of undeveloped ACT land and really getting a better idea of ACT land assets, was discussed. We devoted some time to it in the hearings. It is an important point. I understand the difficulty of it. I understand that it has not been something that has been done by past governments, but it is something that would add to accountability in the territory. That is why the committee has seen fit to include that recommendation.

Recommendation 3, which I suggested, was in relation to the LDA getting some better processes. The appointment of in-house legal counsel to manage the fairly significant amount of external legal services that they have and that they have provided to them would add to the value for money that the LDA is likely to get and would add a bit of a check. Recommendation 3 is an important one as well.

I will not speak to each recommendation, but I will raise a couple more. I need to speak to recommendation 11. This was put in as a bit of a political kick. I do not think it is really something that the planning and environment committee would ordinarily concern itself with. That is why I have responded to that in the dissenting report. Let me deal with the merits of the recommendation. It states:

The Committee commends the ACT Government for its policy of not encouraging the use of Australian Workplace Agreements in the ACT Public Service.

It is a slightly misguided recommendation. As I said, apart from being somewhat outside the ordinary consideration of the planning and environment committee, given the figures which I have highlighted in the dissenting report about the differences in real wages between those on AWAs and those on awards or those covered by collective agreements, the committee is essentially recommending that the ACT government, or commending the ACT government for this, continue to keep wages lower in the ACT public service.

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