Page 672 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2006

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There would be no paternity leave for the Leader of the Opposition to enjoy today if it were not for unions, if there were not a right to collectively bargain, a right which you have swept away. There would be no maternity leave of the order which we see if it were not for unions and the right to collectively bargain for workers. You know it and you all benefited from those pay rises in those workplaces in which you, in your non-unionised state, rode on the back of union organisation and activity. You picked up the pay rise and picked up the paternity and maternity leave, but never contributed to the action and have scoffed at and scorned unions forever and a day whilst blithely accepting all the benefits that were delivered to you as a result of collectivisation, union action and union agitation.

It is the height of hypocrisy, it is the absolute height of hypocrisy, that you sit back and take on the one hand and then bite the hand that delivered to you the quality of life that you enjoy and that your families enjoy. It is a fact—you cannot deny it; you cannot dispute it—of the quality of life which Australians enjoy that it was delivered on the back of organised labour. That is irrefutable and you are hypocrites to the extent that you argue against it and stand here and defend the legislation of your federal colleagues that has turned back all of those hard-earned rights and conditions that were delivered by unions under the pre-existing industrial framework in Australia, those issues around the right to collectively bargain, the right to join unions, the right not to be dismissed unfairly or unilaterally, as we saw today in the first notified case of, essentially, unfair dismissal that occurred in Victoria.

It will be recorded as a day of infamy that workers are now so exposed that they can roll up to work of a morning and have their boss say, “You are sacked, but I still need you. You can come back immediately, as long as you sign this contract which commits you to accepting $25,000 less than you were receiving yesterday. Take it or leave it. I still need you. I still want you here, but I just refuse to pay the terms and conditions which you had negotiated for you through collective bargaining arrangements.” It is appalling, it is outrageous and it goes, of course, to the right to collectively bargain, the right not to be unfairly dismissed and, as Ms Porter raises, the right to strike, rights which are essential, which have been essential and which, I think, each of us would know in our hearts, if we were honest, we have all benefited from. We take the benefits and do not acknowledge the cost of those who bore the price of the action that was taken to secure the working conditions which each of us enjoys in Australia, or did enjoy.

Water—pricing regime

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Chief Minister in his capacity as minister for water. What water pricing regime does the government intend to put in place to resolve the ongoing conflict of Actew wanting consumers to use more water but the government wanting Canberrans to use less water?

MR STANHOPE: It certainly is the case that, in the context of water and water use and our capacity to meet some of the water reduction targets that we have set, there is a range of stratagems that can be utilised. Some of these go to water. Water is price sensitive in terms of its use, and that is an issue that the government is conscious of.

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