Page 2389 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 August 2017
cannot be within the remit of WorkSafe ACT to educate and inform young people of their rights and responsibilities and why these sessions must be delivered by such a partisan organisation. They seem to have an issue when it comes to dealing with some organisations in the club space. They have deemed some organisations partisan and have refused to deal with them, so it seems that so long as organisations agree with them they are fine. I look forward to hearing the real thoughts of those opposite, and I commend my motion to the house.
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (4.27): The government will not be supporting this motion in its current form. I have an amendment circulated in my name that I will move in a moment. Mr Wall’s motion does not appear to be about elevating the interests of students or workers. It is not about recognising and respecting the role of WorkSafe ACT, either. It seems as though Mr Wall and others have a particular dislike of trade unions. He has made that clear in his personal comments outside and inside this place. So we accept that; we accept that there is a real difference there, and that is okay.
It is okay to have a difference and to have a sophisticated and grown-up debate where people do not need to yell at each other across the chamber and make allegations about not getting responses to questions that they have asked, when they did. The questions were responded to by officials in the Education Directorate. So it was simply not true to say that his questions were not answered when they were asked during estimates hearings.
There is nothing in Mr Wall’s motion, or his remarks in support of it, that even considers how important it is that students are prepared for adult life. So I am going to make that my contribution to this debate, rather than get into a battle about whether unions should exist or not, or who is the better person on either side of this debate. The work done by UnionsACT through this program is absolutely pure. Unions give their time freely to schools to make sure that students, as new workers, are protected from threats to their workplace health, safety and welfare, and that they are informed about their rights and responsibilities at work and the rights and responsibilities of their employer. This is a very important role of school education.
As my amendment identifies, providing this kind of information is among the legislated commitments of the government school system, which include responsiveness to community needs and preparing students to be independent and effective local and global citizens. How can young people be independent and effective members of society in adulthood if they are not sufficiently equipped to enter work? As some of my colleagues in the government will highlight in their remarks, I am sure, there is clear evidence that supports the importance of students in schools having appropriate access to expert advice when they need it on workplace rights and responsibilities as well as workplace health, safety and welfare.