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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1386

Senator REID —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. Is it a fact that no plumbing work has been done on the new Parliament House site for approximately five weeks? Is it a fact that completion of the building has now been extended by some weeks? In the event that the plumbers' strike continues for a further three weeks, will the cost of the strike have equalled the cost of the deferred landscaping? Is it correct that it costs $350,000 to open the gates of the new Parliament House site on a working day?

Senator GIETZELT —I have some information in respect of industrial disputes and the landscaping at the new Parliament House site. The quite extensive brief indicates that an industrial dispute of some consequence is taking place. I am advised by ministerial brief not to respond particularly to the difficult negotiations that are taking place in respect of that dispute. I think that is a very sensible approach for a Minister in this place who represents a Minister in the other place. The campaign involves a shorter--

Senator Walsh —What about the doctors union's pay grab?

Senator GIETZELT —The campaign involves a claim for a shorter working week and an increase in pay of some $70 a week. Of course that is considerably less, as my colleague the Minister for Finance points out, than what is being demanded by those who conduct medical services in the Australian Capital Territory. The Government is, of course, one of the parties concerned. As the Senate would be aware, the employer is not strictly the Federal Government itself. Negotiations therefore between the employers and the employees are matters which are the concern of the Government but not the responsibility of the Government. Therefore statements that may be expected from either me or, say, the Minister for Territories, Mr Scholes, would be only of an advisory nature and we would not be expected to make any decisions in respect of the current dispute.