Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 February 2009) . . Page.. 969 ..
key reproductive years of 25 to 34 years, female workforce participation rates increased from around 45 per cent in 1978 to 70 per cent in 2008. This is a major shift in the role of women and, as a result, workplaces need to change.
Paid parental leave is just one way to adapt to a changing society. Workplaces also need to look at flexible working arrangements and ways they can provide a family-friendly environment to ensure the best possible conditions for staff. The implementation of 18 weeks maternity leave for ACT government staff is, we believe, a step forward, and we look forward to the final recommendations of the Productivity Commission, which we hope will further improve the lives of Australian families.
As to the 18 weeks leave, we came out and supported that when the Labor Party announced it during the election campaign. We believe it is a good step forward and that it is worth pursuing. But I think it is worth reflecting on why we have this wording in this motion. The Greens and Labor Party have signed up to an agreement, and part of this motion calls on the ACT government to fulfil its election commitments. I would expect, and I would think the Greens would expect, that the Labor Party, the Labor government, will fulfil their election promises.
Paid maternity leave should be no different from smaller classes or any of the other major promises that were made during the campaign. It does indicate potentially that the Greens do not necessarily believe that the Labor Party is going to fulfil its election promises, and they are now putting forward the wish list of priorities of which election promises need to be honoured. Obviously, the ones that are not put forward are the ones that perhaps do not need to be honoured. We do not take that view. We actually believe that the government should honour its election commitments. We do not believe the Greens should have to put forward a motion.
The other point that is worth making on this is that the Greens will be part of the development of the budget. The budget will actually be a bit of a collaborative effort between the Greens and the Labor Party. That is in the Greens-Labor agreement, so one would think that as part of that process, which they will have some ownership of when the budget is put forward, these sorts of things will be discussed.
It is worth noting that the Greens, who are in an agreement with the Labor Party and who will form this alliance which will put together and develop budgets, are now picking publicly which of the election promises of the ACT Labor Party they believe should be honoured. We seek some clarification from the Greens, perhaps when Ms Hunter closes, on whether this represents the beginning of the wish list of those promises that they believe are worth salvaging, with the promises absent from the wish list being those which they believe are not worth salvaging or do not need to be honoured.
For instance, would the Greens support a motion that calls on the government to honour its commitment to lower class sizes? We are not sure. That is certainly something we are committed to, and we would like to see the government honour its commitment on that, regardless of how much they would try and use weasel words to get around it. It does represent a very interesting scenario for us, so we would seek some clarification on that.