Page 4540 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 18 October 2011

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Occupation-specific enterprise agreement bargaining is occurring now that we have reached in-principle support on the quantum of the pay rise for the majority of our staff. Indeed, I believe the AEU now remains the only bargaining agent that we need to reach agreement with. We are now in the second phase of doing the occupation-specific enterprise agreement negotiations which will cover nurses and midwives. The teachers’ negotiations are ongoing but the occupational-specific or scheduled negotiations are now happening.

DR BOURKE: Chief Minister, how does this compare to previous outcomes for public servants in the territory?

MS GALLAGHER: The government has always taken the view to the bargaining table that we should pay a reasonable wage outcome to all of our public servants, but it has to be managed within the constraints of the budget and there are a number of constraints on the budget. We did have a previous wage offer of 2.5 per cent, recognising some of the stress that the global financial crisis placed on the budget.

The government has revised our offer. I think we are now offering the most generous increase of any state or territory government. The other state and territory governments are trying to restrain—indeed, to legislate for pay increases in the order of 2.5 per cent unless there are productivity savings being made. So I think we have made a generous offer. It is going to put additional stress on our budget and we will need to find additional savings to fund this additional increase as each percentage increase, I think, costs the budget around $18 million. There is a bit of work to be done there but we always balance the cost to the budget with the need to provide fair remuneration for our staff.

Community sector portable long service leave

MR HARGREAVES: Minister, given that the ACT government inaugurated the community sector portable long service scheme as from 1 July 2011, can you please advise the Assembly about the current standing of that scheme?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Hargreaves for his interest and help in setting up the community sector long service leave scheme. There are currently 206 active employers in the scheme. The implementation, I think, has gone very well. We have a registered total of 9,998 employees. Of those, 9,593 were actively engaged in the sector in the last quarter and included in employer returns. The authority has already paid out 26 entitlement benefit claims to workers in the sector, consisting mainly of refunds to employers for the portion of work or entitlements accrued since the commencement of the scheme and for which a levy has already been paid to the authority.

MR HARGREAVES: Can the minister advise the Assembly of any feedback that has been received regarding the scheme?

MS GALLAGHER: The authority has advised that the level of compliance with the scheme has been very high, with all employers having completed their most recent quarterly returns and paid their associated levies. All returns are processed

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