Page 4816 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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Mr Corbell: It is quite inappropriate for Mrs Burke to suggest that it is a disgrace as she is, in effect, reflecting on the vote of the Assembly.

MRS BURKE: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Speaker, I was simply making the comment that I think that it is inappropriate. I understand your ruling and I will take note of it. There are currently six different workplace relation systems in Australia, with thousands of federal and state awards. This system is a product of a compromise over many years. That is the problem that we are dealing with. We are dealing with age-old legislation. We are dealing with age-old systems. We are dealing with a raft of things across this country that need to be simplified so that both employers and employees can have a better working relationship.

We need an industrial relations system that is responsive to the needs of employers and employees and is relevant to the 21st century. The current system, as I have said, was designed in the 1900s to solve the industrial problems of the 1890s. It was predicated on the idea that industrial relations is based on conflict and disputation. To quote Kevin Andrews on his launch of the second briefing, I believe, to the house on the hill, “A nation of 20 million people on the edge of the world’s most dynamic region cannot afford to sleepwalk through the 21st century with a workplace relations system mired in the thinking of the 19th century.”

Mr Speaker, let us see what the doomsayers are scaring the community with. They are saying that the legislation is a pact with the devil, that it is the devil’s pact with business, that it is a poisonous plan to shaft workers and that it is the biggest attack on workers’ rights for 100 years. It has been described as vandalism of workers’ rights by Janet Giles from Unions SA

Mr Mulcahy: Scaremongering.

MRS BURKE: Scaremongering, as my colleague Mr Mulcahy says quite rightly. Here is a good one: workers will be enslaved. “This is not liberating workplaces. It is enslaving workplaces, with employers having the whip hand over bonded labour.” That was Brian Boyd’s contribution on 26 May.

Mr Mulcahy: Don’t forget the family barbecue.

MRS BURKE: The family barbecue was another one. Life will never be the same again. Christmases will never be the same again.

Mr Gentleman: They aren’t, are they?

MRS BURKE: Mr Gentleman, wake up. People have worked on Christmas Day since Adam was a boy. For goodness sake! Mr Speaker, I am very disappointed too that we do stand in this place as a matter of fact to debate federal legislation. I am concerned and wonder what we can do as an ACT Assembly against what is federal legislation.

Mr Mulcahy: Wasting our time.

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