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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1526

Senator BELL (5.07 p.m.) —I am sorry but I have to seek further clarification. Under these proposals, the taxpayer will have money extracted on a weekly or fortnightly basis. The opportunity for the employer to contribute is contingent upon successful completion of studies, and evidence of that would come at the end of the year. That means that the employee will be out of pocket during the year, unable to get a reimbursement until the end of the year. That is surely an inequity because that cash money will be taken from the student.

  Some might think that is fair enough—a pay-as-you-go sort of thing. But we are talking about a change in circumstances—a change which offended Senator Watson right at the beginning—a change of rules, and a variation to the contract.

  These arrangements have been made and, if not incorporated in an award, certainly incorporated in substantial agreements, particularly with the PSU. This is not something to be taken lightly. It applies to thousands of state and federal government employees in particular. The minister's answer does not address the problem that will be faced by these people of being $50, $60 or $80 a fortnight worse off than before this idea was first concocted. I ask again: how will this inequity be addressed?

Senator Cook —I have answered the question.

Senator BELL —I give up.