Page 863 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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Industrial relations

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Chief Minister. There has been a great deal of discussion this week about the impact the commonwealth’s work choices legislation is already having on the business and industrial landscape across Australia. Can the Chief Minister inform the Assembly of the major changes that are driving this negative impact?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms MacDonald for her question. It is important in this first week—

Mrs Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Would you rule on what part of the Chief Minister’s responsibilities he is referring to in answering Ms MacDonald’s question, which was very open ended. There was no particular reference in Ms MacDonald’s question to any of the Chief Minister’s responsibilities. It did not even make reference to the people of Canberra. Would you rule on that?

MS MacDONALD: I would be happy to rephrase the question.

MR SPEAKER: I do not think it needs rephrasing. The question was to the Chief Minister. It was about the effect of work choices in the ACT. As the work choices bill affects ACT residents, I think it is quite open to the Chief Minister to make some comments in relation to the matter.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Once again we see the discomfort of the Liberal Party in the Assembly in relation to any discussion of work choices. We all know why Mrs Dunne and the Liberal Party are so uncomfortable when it comes to their continuing ownership of the work choices legislation. This is the fourth day of operation of work choices and we see now the lengths to which the Liberal Party in this place is going to distance itself from this draconian legislation which will affect every worker and every family in the ACT. That is why it is so relevant.

It is extremely interesting to see the Pontius Pilate act that is going on now. The opposition are saying, “It is nothing to do with us. Let’s not talk about that. Let’s not talk about the impact this will have as days go by on every worker and every family”—in other words, every person in the ACT. I am not a bit surprised that you do not want questions on work choices in this place. I am not a bit surprised that you take repetitive points of order and continue to interject as you walk away from your role in, and support of, what will prove to be the most unpopular and, for you, damaging piece of legislation imaginable.

As we focus on the effects and impact of this legislation, it is interesting to focus on what is happening and why it is happening and to go to the specifics. Day by day now in Australia we see the impact of the removal of laws in relation to unfair dismissal. We see it in the ACT at Boral. The peremptory dismissal of workers that started from day one, and which we see repeated here now in the ACT, is essentially a response by employers who have been waiting patiently with particular workers in their sights. They say, “I want to get rid of this worker; he has upset me in the past” or “I find him rude” or “I just don’t like him” or “He backs the wrong football team.” They say, “Come 27 March

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