I rise today on behalf of public servants in Canberra and right across the country who have been fighting this government for more than 18 months over their enterprise agreements. The employment minister's hardline approach to bargaining has not been productive at all. Close to 160,000 employees are still without new agreements, like the scientists at Geoscience Australia, who are responsible for fundamental tasks like being on early tsunami watch for Australia and its Pacific neighbours and who took part in strike action yesterday over the offensive deal they have been offered.
Their latest offer includes cuts to their penalty rates that could see them $4,500 a year worse off. It is a similar situation across other Public Service agencies. The government has been trying to cut Public Service wages while at the same time eroding hardfought-for conditions.
These 160,000 public servants who are without an agreement are now looking to the Prime Minister to fix this mess. They are looking to him to offer a fair deal for wages and conditions. They are looking to him to appoint a minister who will take real steps to resolve this long-running dispute. They are looking to him to sit around the table and actually negotiate. They are looking for an agreement that reflects the respect that these servants of democracy to serve.