Page 3506 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008

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DR FOSKEY: I will continue on members’ superannuation. While the Chief Minister at the time argued that the Australian Public Service is not a big competitor with the ACT and that somehow we should compare our situation to that of public servants in Perth or Sydney, that was clearly a hollow argument. It might be true if one was thinking in terms of benchmarks, but it is not true in terms of the actual market.

I am aware that the CPSU has kept superannuation for territory employees at the front of their industrial issues, but I cannot imagine that we will have any Treasury workers going on strike to ensure their equity any time soon.

I am also uncomfortable with endorsing any system where new employees are paid less than existing ones. While there are clear ethical issues around diminishing someone’s entitlements after they have made agreements or signed contracts, I would have thought that some kind of gentle incremental process that would adjust to a lower rate over time might have been worth exploring, to spread the pain and all that.

Here we have new MLAs with lesser entitlements than existing MLAs—in order, one imagines, not to appear to be treated better than other territory employees. The thinking here is clear. The previous thinking going back to 2006 has always been unclear and uninspired. In a situation where we are competing with commonwealth employees, it is not particularly a good idea, but I will not be opposing the bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Sexual and Violent Offences Legislation Amendment Bill 2008

Debate resumed from 3 July 2008 on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (7.34): The opposition will be supporting this bill. In fact, I am amazed that it took so long. I am very pleased that it has come before the Assembly. I am pleased that we can debate it and pass it in this Assembly. Its genesis was in the DPP-AFP report of, I think, March 2005, which made a number of recommendations in relation to sexual assault matters. It is very timely, too, because for many years there have been some considerable problems in relation to the prosecution of sexual assault matters in the territory.

There was a learned article recently in the Canberra Times which showed how difficult it was to get a conviction for sexual assault matters, simply because of the drawn-out process that was involved. I found it rather interesting to see the author state that barristers representing accused would give the complainant a hard time in the committal proceedings and then ease off a bit in the Supreme Court, that it became a game. It is very much a game.

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