Page 869 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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significant changes on working people’s lives in the ACT that we have seen for some time. Members opposite can pooh-pooh this. They can say, “It doesn’t matter.” It does not affect them and it does not affect their families but it will affect—

Mr Mulcahy: We were just told that it reaches all.

MS GALLAGHER: This is the attitude you are showing. You are saying, “It does not matter to us. We don’t care. Stop talking about it.” We will continue to talk about it. We will continue to talk about it as the situations are exposed. These laws have been encouraged and allowed to happen. We will keep talking about it while our High Court challenge proceeds. We will keep talking about it as we resolve industrial disputes in a new industrial landscape.

Mr Gentleman has asked how we will deal with our public servants. This is a very real question for us. How do we as a Labor government that has chosen to negotiate what was called section 170LJ agreements—union-employer negotiated agreements—maintain that dialogue and that relationship whilst complying with laws which essentially have been drafted to outlaw that relationship? How we proceed with that is a matter of great concern to the government. We are committed to doing all we can to minimise the impact of the legislation on our own employees, how we deal with them and how we negotiate our agreements with them in the future.

We have already begun discussions with the public sector unions on how this might take place. We are talking about what kind of creative ideas we can look at to ensure that there are agreements in place between the government and the union about how we resolve industrial disputes, how we relate to our employees through their legitimately elected representatives and how we progress all matters industrial over the next few years.

The fact is that work choices, when applied, will apply to ACT public servants. The current enterprise agreements that people operate under will continue even when those agreements include what has now become known as “prohibited content”. This is content, of course, that the federal government finds offensive—such scary content as having your union dues deducted by a bank through your employer. What a terribly evil condition that is! A $33,000 fine can be involved if you choose—this is what it is all about: choice—to have your union fees deducted through your payroll by the pay clerk. This is an inherently evil condition that should not be encouraged. The right of entry allowing the union into your workplace is again terribly frightening and must be outlawed.

We want to look at these sorts of conditions. We want to look at how we can ensure that in the ACT we can manage to have cooperative, conducive relationships which are positive and that deliver positive results for the employer. We want to look at how we can continue these relationships despite the fact that they are being outlawed by work choices. We will have to look at how secret individual contracts are applied. In the ACT government we have what we call special employment arrangements which allow for particular agreements to be entered into rather than AWAs, and they will be more attractive now when we need them because of the promise that the no disadvantage test will apply—and, as we know, this will no longer apply under AWAs.

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