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Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Page: 27468

Mr GRIFFIN (9:52 AM) — In my experience, every day can be Stroppy Day, but in deference to you today, Mr Deputy Speaker Nehl, I will not make it my day for Stroppy Day. I rise today to talk about matters which relate to both sides of the House, and in particular to the staff of both sides of the House: the issue of the negotiations between the Department of Finance and Administration and various parties on the MOPS—Members of Parliament (Staff)—agreement.

Members would probably be aware that the agreement covers electorate and advisory staff for both sides. The current agreement was scheduled to finish on 31 December last year. Apparently, negotiations were to start at the end of October 2000. An announcement was made by fax in September by the minister that that would occur, but no further contact occurred for some three months. Earlier this year—in January, I think—some meetings were organised by DOFA with staff in capital cities to consult about what sorts of issues might be included in the next certified agreement. But since then not a lot else has actually happened, as far as I am aware.

I am also led to believe that DOFA has refused to respond to the unions which have been given the power to negotiate on behalf of all Labor staff. I also understand that there is some unofficial feedback around, some scuttlebutt—and you never can be sure about this—alleging that DOFA has been told not to make an offer during an election year and not to recognise the role of the unions, which is the government not wanting to play by its own rules, if that is the case. However, while the bulk of electorate staff, including the Liberals' own staff, are losing money and benefits every day, or are in a situation where they will have to get it backdated—and that produces difficulties in itself—the government's staff committee has ensured that some favoured sons, including three principal advisers, have been given pay rises that take their salaries above $142,000 per year. Under questioning at estimates, the government refused to give the exact salaries of these advisers, but it was confirmed that they fall outside the maximum salary band under the MOPS agreement. The point I would like to leave the House with is: we all know that our staff have a thankless and difficult job and that they need proper remuneration to ensure that they can do that job. I urge all those involved to get the negotiations going so that we can get results really quickly on this matter.