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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 However, I put very strongly to the Chief Minister that he should consider the proposition that, for an employee who has served 10 years - which is a long time in anybody's language, and especially in the Northern Territory - long service leave is a right or it is money in the bank, as people say, and ought to remain that way. It ought not to be subject to termination on the basis of either serious or wilful misconduct. There might be other action which an employer could take against the employee. I do not know what is particularly contemplated by that phrase 'serious and wilful misconduct'. If there is damage to property, then an employer can obtain some remedy there. But we believe long service leave is a right after 10 years service. It ought not be able to be taken away from an employee. I reiterate what has been said by all members in the Assembly today. We on this side of the Assembly support the legislation before us. It will provide those people who are not covered by awards with minimum award protection. It will not leap the gate so that the work of unions and employers will be done away with, and nor should it. On the other hand, it does provide enforcement provisions to ensure that those people who are not covered by awards are in fact given protection by legislation. Mr HARRIS (Port Darwin): I wish to speak briefly to these bills. There is no doubt in my mind that these 3 bills and the matters relating to the build-up to them have received as much debate as any other piece of legislation in this Legislative Assembly. As far as I can ascertain, most of the people who have been involved in those discussions and debates are reasonably happy with the bills. It is obviously not possible to satisfy all the parties concerned. In many cases, no amount of argument will convince a person to change his opinion about a certain subject where he feels very strongly about it and one must part company accepting that people beg to differ. One of the areas that I find very difficult to accept is the pro rata area. This is where I beg to differ with the Leader of the Opposition. There is no way that I will be convinced that a person should be entitled to pro rata long service leave payments after serving a period of 7 years. We are given the argument that we are talking about minimum standards and that all the other states have the basic prescription, and the pro rata prescription is usually about two-thirds of that basic prescription; hence, we end up with 7 years. We already have extremely generous long service leave provisions. I cannot see how one can justify making those provisions any more generous. All of these extras add further costs to the general community. I have mentioned on other occasions in this Assembly that there are a number of industries employing many people who fall into the non-award category and these industries, as soon as these bills become law, will have an impost placed upon them. Generally, employer groups are happy with what has been achieved throughout this whole exercise and all the people who have been involved are to be congratulated. Many meetings have taken place with the ACTU and the TLC. It is through such meetings that most of the queries that have been raised in relation to the interpretation of wording have been satisfied. One of the recommendations that has been followed in the bills has been in the general wording and usage. This has been kept to common industrial language and, in that way, members on both sides of the industrial fence know exactly where they stand. There is one other thing that I would like to say before closing. When I was cross-referencing the 3 bills with the bills that have been recommended in the inquiry report, and with one another, I found that there were many occasions when the definitions in the interpretation sections varied. I understand that, on occasion, this has to be the case and I do see now that there are amendments circulating which will hopefully standardise these definitions. 1306