Page 1524 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2006

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“(3) noting that the Committee has tabled an interim report which indicated at paragraph 5.12 that time and evidence are needed to reliably and validly determine the effects on working families in the ACT of reforms to the industrial relations system:

(a) suspends the operation of the Committee from the date this motion is agreed to until March 2007; and

(b) calls on the Assembly to amend the terms of reference in March 2007 in light of comments in the interim report; and”

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (10.46): Mr Speaker, it is obvious, from the insistence by Mr Gentleman, that the committee is taking the opportunity to conduct, in the words of Kim Beazley, “all forms of ratbaggery” in an attempt to crystal-ball the longer-term effects and the impact of the new legislation. Indeed, this is a grossly embarrassing attempt by the Stanhope government to string this out for all it is worth—at taxpayers’ expense, let us not forget. Of course, we are unable as a jurisdiction to make any legislative changes to the act anyway, given that it is federal government legislation.

It is also blatantly clear now that the Stanhope government desperately needs a major political diversion, given the atrocious state of affairs that the territory is now facing regarding the functional review and forthcoming budget. Sadly, Mr Gentleman is the poor puppet being pushed forward to try and achieve this—

Mr Mulcahy: He’s being paid for it.

MRS BURKE: Yes, of course; he is being paid. Predictably, the release of the WorkChoices regulations has sparked a round of hysterical claims—a word that the Stanhope government likes to accuse the opposition of—by the ALP and the union movement. Deliberate misleading is the order of the day, to prop up a large number of false, or at this point unsubstantiated, cases.

I would also point out that this may all be an ignorant attempt by some commentators to provide a viewpoint of the legislation and regulations without enough time passing to see any real impact or changes to Australian and, in our case, ACT workplaces. That goes to the nub of this issue: enough time is needed to pass by to see real impact and change.

We would all most likely agree that this is a radical overhaul of duplicated, and at times confusing, state and federal industrial relations systems. The federal ALP have made attempts to seek some reform in their approach to industrial relations legislation in the past. Yet the federal Labor leader, Kim Beazley, just cannot support the changes to the system now, built incrementally on the reforms that were first made by Mr Keating when he was Prime Minister in 1993, built upon by further reforms in 1996.

I wonder if the federal Labor leader, or indeed any Labor premier or chief minister, maintains an interest in the future of the economy or prosperity of this nation. The trouble for them, of course, is that it appears that the current federal government does, and it recognises the importance of change and the capacity of the business sector to adapt to the pressures brought on it by global economic influences. I believe the federal industrial relations minister, Kevin Andrews, summed the matter up quite well:

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