Mrs ARMITAGE (Launceston ) - Mr President, I will start by saying I believe that the public servants do work very hard, and I have no problem - I am quite sure they do. However, it is not that long ago that to be a public servant would be seen as having a job for life.
Mr Valentine - It is no longer the case now, I can tell you that.
Mrs ARMITAGE - It may not be the case, but I still see the difference between private enterprise and public servants - there is a huge gap. I was speaking to an employer this morning that employs 17 staff, who said when I mentioned this bill, 'So what's going to happen next? What happens always happens. It starts with government, then we in private enterprise are expected to keep up and do the same.' It is a bit like what the member for Western Tiers said in his contribution. How can someone in private enterprise who no longer has a position for that person do that? It is very difficult, I do not think they could afford to pay them for six months, let alone be able to pay them for 12 months. Once the precedent has been set by the public service, then often things flow on to private enterprise. That is something really difficult.
One of the things we need to remember is that these employees are not leaving without their entitlements. Not only are they getting their full entitlements, but they are also getting six months on full pay. That is pretty good in anyone's terms. I realise it says here in the fact sheet 'because things have changed'. I did not know there was any more hay in the barn. I have not heard there is any more hay in the barn. When you ask the government for funding on any issue, they do not seem to have any money, so I am surprised -
Mr Dean - In fact they are bringing it in from the mainland, the hay.
Mrs ARMITAGE - I thought the hay was cut. That was one of the reasons the electoral bill was coming in, that they did not have as much money to spend. I find it surprising. I do not think there are many people in that situation and who have been in difficulty and that should be a reason for going from six to 12 months. I would like the leader to explain whether they have had many public servants who have actually left who have had great difficulty over the last period since we made this six months.
I understand what the reason for changing it back is here, but surely there would have to be some facts and figures to back it up. Why would we just change it on a whim? I would like to see some facts.
Mr Farrell - I will probably have to take that on advice. I will see if we have the information at hand, but I do not believe we have it.
Mrs ARMITAGE - It is only fair if we are expected to change something from six to 12 months to see why, to see the facts and figures that support it. If the government cannot provide them - but it comes down to fairness to all employees, whether they are in private enterprise or in the public service. Why should employers in private enterprise have to try to meet what is being provided to people in public service? They are all working; they are all working the same hours. Probably some in private enterprise are working more hours. It needs to be a level playing field.
I certainly cannot support this bill. It is untenable for those in private enterprise. Six months is still a long time, as the member for Apsley said. It would be very nice to be paid six months when you no longer had a job. I guess we could call us in public service as we serve the public every day, but of course we do not expect it. The real issue is that they are getting their full entitlements. It is not as if they are being sent off with nothing. They are still getting full entitlements plus six months' pay. I cannot support this bill but I put it on the record that I am not saying they do not work hard. When someone's job is no longer there, in fairness to everyone across the state I cannot support it.
Mr Dean - My job was not there. I got a handshake but no promise of any extra work.
Mrs ARMITAGE - I think six months is a golden handshake.
Mr Valentine - It is not free.
Mrs ARMITAGE - I am not saying it is free but they are still having employment when they know their job is no longer there.
Ms Forrest - They are still working in a job.
Mrs ARMITAGE - I understand that, but it is in a job that no longer exists.
Mr Valentine - They are providing value though -
Mrs ARMITAGE - But if they are providing value then the job would still be available.
Mr Valentine - It stops at 12 months rather than six.
Mrs ARMITAGE - I understand. But there needs to be a fair playing field. It sets a precedent for private enterprise. Ten per cent or 17 per cent of the state of Tasmania is in private enterprise and providing for the rest of the people of Tasmania. Compare the number of people on unemployment benefits or a pension of some sort with those in the public service. A very small percentage in private enterprise have already left the state. I do not believe those people can afford to follow up on this and pay that sort of entitlement on redundancies.
Mr PRESIDENT - This could well be the last day so let us keep it together. We would be away a lot quicker if we could deal with the business in front of us.