Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 15 November 2007) . . Page.. 3428 ..
I have voted for the Government in the past and if there was a way they could show me, in black and white, that my working conditions were not going to change for the worse, then I might consider going back to them. But at the moment I don’t trust them.
Paul works as a nurse, and nights and weekends he works to top up his wages. Any threat to his penalty rates would have a huge impact on the family’s finances. Yet the Liberals still keep repeating the mantra “Australian families have never been better off”.
Mrs Burke’s belief that the data collection on AWAs is satisfactory is laughable at best. Over 1,000 AWAs are lodged with the Workplace Authority each day. The acknowledgement of the fact that tens of thousands of AWAs are in review is well documented and the fact that 25,000 did not meet the basic requirements of the fairness test is an indictment of just how well some businesses have endorsed the legislation as a way of cutting costs—as Mrs Burke well knows, being an ex-director of one of those businesses herself.
The so-called fairness test is an insult to any working Australian. Only agreements lodged after 7 May this year are eligible for checking. What about the thousands of AWAs lodged before 7 May this year, the start date of the fairness test? The fact is that these employees have no recourse at all; they just have to live with the conditions stipulated in the AWA for the length of the contract. Where is the fairness in that?
Mrs Burke fails to understand that the recently released report More work, less choice is a national report; it is not just focused on the ACT. The workers interviewed in the ACT formed part of that report, not the whole report. The report was just one of many mentioned in the submissions, and as such formed only part of the committee’s report.
Mrs Burke’s comments in reference to the gathering of statistical information on AWAs and comments about the introduction of the so-called fairness test need to be viewed in the light of just how ineffective the Workplace Authority is and the fact that the authority is failing and cannot deal in any way with the workload it has now, let alone any more gathering of statistical information.
I am pleased that Mrs Burke sees the issue of youth underemployment and unemployment as a serious issue. Mrs Burke’s comments about training for young people are simplistic at best. The ability for schools to comprehensively cover all the issues pertaining to industrial relations, workplace rights and OHS is limited, due to the demands on an already busy curriculum. The issue of workplace rights and responsibilities is a critical one. A resource centre where training, information, help and legal advice can be accessed is critical for all young people.
It is interesting, to say the least, to look at where Mrs Burke finds some of the information in her dissenting report. Again drawing a long bow in relation to the report More work, less choice, Mrs Burke claims that the recommendation referring to the procurement process has been taken from this report. In fact, it comes from one of the submissions presented to the committee and is a valid recommendation given that the race to the bottom has seen many workers on low pay forced onto ABNs in order