Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1561..
Long Service Leave (Building and Construction and Contract Cleaning Industries) Legislation Amendment Bill 2007
Debate resumed from 29 May 2007, on motion by Mr Barr:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (12.13): Mr Speaker, the opposition will be supporting this bill. At the outset, I would like to thank the minister for making his adviser and public servants available for a briefing on this bill. That said, I reiterate that having such a short turnaround to assess and analyse legislation is far from ideal and should only occur when absolutely necessary and unavoidable.
I have been quite frustrated in my attempts to prepare a response to this bill by the government's decision to prevent direct discussion with the ACT Construction and Cleaning Industry Long Service Leave Authority. Following the briefing that my office was provided, my staff member was handed a business card from the chief executive of the authority and told to contact him if there were further issues. However, I was subsequently advised and my office was advised that all inquiries had to be directed through the minister's office.
Mr Speaker, this is an authority and the government should not be exercising this level of control over what occurs within it and its relationship with the opposition. That does not happen when I deal with Actew, for example. There is a very clear delineation. That is the whole point, I thought, of having an authority. We respect the fact that if government departments are involved we do not go directly to public servants, but I think that the policy that was established in this case was inappropriate, and I certainly want to put my concerns on the record.
The difficulty of analysing legislation so quickly arose on this occasion. Although the Liberal Party will be supporting this legislation, I feel it is worthy of mention just how hard the quick turnaround makes things. I understand we are having this debate now because the legislation has to be passed before the end of the financial year and, of course, this is effectively the last day before the end of the financial year in terms of Assembly sittings. The mind does turn, however, to all of those sitting days when we have broken early and wonder whether the government could not be a little more organised in introducing legislation. On the face of it, it reflects poorly on the management of this authority, and it is an issue that I will now take up in estimates, given this experience.
This bill will change the reporting requirements for employers in the building and construction and contract cleaning industries. It appears to make the requirements for employers easier to comply with. However, that being said, at 7 o'clock last night when I spoke with a senior executive of the master builders association he knew nothing about this legislation. He said that it may have been that somebody else was consulted, but it troubles me when now I have contacted two industry groups which express their concern over the handling of this legislation. If there are issues to be ironed out, this is the whole point of giving this Assembly appropriate notice and not