Page 4817 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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MRS BURKE: It is an absolute waste of time. Let us look at why I believe Mr Gentleman and the Stanhope government are very much out of step. Today, we may have heard Mr Gentleman’s presentation speech on the select committee report; I am not sure. It is disappointing that he is not keeping step. Let us look at what people around the country are saying about the national system. They are saying that a single national system of workplace relations will remove the red tape and duplication caused by overlapping state and federal systems. Obviously, that is not what the ACT government want. They do not want simplification. They want to keep the waters muddy so that nobody knows what anybody else is doing. That suits their cause perfectly.

Under the new federal system, workplaces will no longer have to deal with the problem of overlapping obligations imposed by state awards and regulations. It is terrible to make things easier! How dare the federal government do that! What an audacious move on their part to make things better for employers and employees! Disgraceful! Let us look at what Neville Wran said. Mr Wran said that there should be a referendum to extend the industrial powers of the federal parliament, arguing that it was ludicrous that the federal government did not have the power, for example, to set minimum national wage rates or conditions affecting female workers. How interesting was that? That was good, wasn’t it?

Steve Bracks has said that the Victorian ALP supports, in principle, the concept of a single national system of industrial relations and always has as it can deliver benefits—benefits—to both employees and employers by creating a uniform national framework for dispute resolution and the application of minimum employment standards that can be more easily complied with and enforced. How very strange! And so it goes on.

Mr Speaker, it has been argued in this place ad nauseam and no doubt—I think that you have alluded to this—we will hear more of it over the next two to three years or whatever.

MR SPEAKER: Only two, I think.

MRS BURKE: Is that right? Okay, you have a crystal ball as well. Mr Speaker, I think that the scaremongering about the reduction of protections in the new system is a first-class furphy. There is no obligation to enter into a new agreement under the new system. I think we need to note, and Mr Gentleman should note, that conditions which will exist in awards can also exist in agreements. I will say that again.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Emergency Services Authority—internal audit

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. The Emergency Services Authority was established on 1 July 2004. Minister, why did the

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