Page 675 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2006

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citizen. It is incredibly responsive in terms of working with government to meet the government’s water objectives. To date, I have to say, its performance has been exemplary.

Policing study

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for police and concerns the ACT Policing study. Minister, the Assembly is well aware that the ACT Policing study, which, so far as I am able to know, analysed how well ACT Policing is resourced and whether or not it can meet its objectives, was completed in the middle of last year. The AFP has been under intense public and political scrutiny over the past year, with questions being raised about the level of community service, as well as some of its procedures. Given these concerns, will the minister for police now commit to the full public release of that study?

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, that particular study is part of Cabinet budget considerations and, as such, no.

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Isn’t the release of this study crucial, so we can know how effectively and efficiently ACT police are performing for budget preparation and for the community’s perception of our safety?

MR HARGREAVES: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Dr Foskey may very well say that. I could not possibly comment.

Industrial relations

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations. Minister, the Chief Minister just outlined some of the rights of employees that are breached by the Work Choices changes. Does this mean that employers have welcomed this legislation?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Gentleman for his question and for his continuing interest in the Work Choices debate. Some of the draconian changes Work Choices places on ACT workers—changes which, as the Chief Minister has just pointed out, breach international rights—might be excusable if they somehow made the employer-employee relationship simpler. That is certainly the argument that the federal government has put forward. But, sadly, we have seen with the tabling of the regulations that this is not the case. There are some 1,800 pages of primary legislation, regulations and explanatory material released by the commonwealth which, unsurprisingly, make our industrial relations system more complex, not simpler.

In particular, these changes place a significant burden on employers—a burden I have no doubt will have a negative impact on business and the wider economy in the ACT. The Minister for Finance and Administration, Senator Nick Minchin, admitted that the government recognised what a mess it had made of these reforms when he told the HR Nicholls Society in March that the unintended consequences were “mind-boggling”. Similarly, the mining giant Rio Tinto has been reported as raising concerns about the impact of the changes. Incredibly, even the HR Nicholls Society, a body created to undermine union activities in Australia and a body whose members include the federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, agrees. Their president, Ray Evans, has suggested that the

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