Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (19 August 1981)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (19 August 1981)


Debates for 3rd Assembly 1980 - 1983; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 3rd Assembly 1980 - 1983




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 19 August 1981 Mr D.W. COLLINS (Alice Springs): Mr Deputy Speaker, these 3 bills are designed to cover an estimated 5,000 to 9,000 people in the Territory workforce who are not covered by an award. The things which will be of interest to the man on the street are the long service leave provisions of three-tenths of a month for each year of service after 10 years with a corresponding 3 months for the next 10 years of extra service. After 7 years of satisfactory service, if a person retires for reasons of ill-health, not just because he wants a change of employment, a pro rata long service leave is allowed. There are also provisions to prevent an employer sacking an employee just before the 7 years are up to prevent paying any long service leave. That is fair enough. There will be 11 gazetted holidays and the annual leave is 4 weeks. The nub of all of this was summed up very well by the Chief Minister when he stated that the purpose of these bills was to provide minimal conditions for persons who are not covered by awards. As recorded on page 1031 of the Hansard, he said: 'As the legislation is intended to apply only to employees not covered by an award or other legislation, this proposal should not be of such a high standard as to discourage employers from seeking award coverage nor to encourage those with award coverage to forsake it'. In the light of that statement,which I support, this is indeed an excellent set of bills. I support them. Mr ISAACS (Opposition Leader): Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not know why it works out this way. Every time the member for Alice Springs speaks about unions or matters to do with industrial relations, I happen to be speaking after him. I am pleased to say that on this occasion it is all sweetness and light. We all agree. I am very pleased to see the 3 bills, which are described as leave bills, before the Assembly. There is a long history of leave acts in the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly. It is not a terribly good history. The bills which are being repealed - the Public Holidays Act, the Annual Leave Act and the Long Service Leave Act - are each deficient in many ways and this fact has been pointed out on many occasions by different members, certainly on this side of the Assembly. I recall when I was shadow minister for industrial relations I introduced legislation to repeal the Annual Leave Act and Public Holidays Act. I introduced a bill to amend the Long Service Leave Act. I recall that the member for Arnhem did precisely the same thing when he was shadow minister for industrial relations. It has been a long battle to update the laws of the Territory with regard to these 3 very important matters. There is a distinction which must be drawn between the 3 bills. The Annual Leave Bill and the Public Holidays Bill apply only to those employees who are not covered by awards of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission or a determination of the Northern Territory Public Service Commissioner. To that extent, they provide minimum standards to those people. The Long service Leave Act applies to everybody in private employment other than those whose own awards might have a long service leave provision in them. The former 2 bills, the Public Holidays Bill and the Annual Leave Bill, are very important indeed. We certainly subscribe to the idea of these bills providing minimum conditions only. We do not believe that they should be vehicles for changing award conditions. We believe that is an appropriate action for unions and employers. But it is important that people who do not have the benefit of union coverage, or who may not even be able to get union coverage, have some minimum requirements and be able to take advantage of the law. In the past, the problem has been that, although the Annual Holidays Act and the Holidays Act set standards, they had no enforcement provisions at all. Because l304

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