Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1562..
MR MULCAHY (continuing):
springing things on it at the last minute because people do not have their act together in the areas that are responsible for the management of this bill.
A welcome component, however, of this amendment bill is that it makes the reporting requirements of employers in the affected industries quarterly, rather than every two months. Under the original act, employers were required to report to the schemes and pay a levy every two months, and were fined if they failed to pay within 15 days. This amendment changes the requirement of both reporting and payment to every quarter and increases the time to pay from 15 days to one month. Furthermore, the reporting requirements have been simplified by this legislation. Whereas previously employers had to report on the name, address and remuneration and list the days, part days and leave days on which the employee was employed, this bill will remove the requirement to list days, part days and leave days. Employers will now just have to list the name, address and total remuneration paid of their employees.
A concern has been raised by an employer in the cleaning industry about the use of information by the board of the Construction and Cleaning Industry Long Service Leave Authority. This employer has this morning raised concerns with me which I need to address. He has expressed disquiet that privileged payroll information could be used by either competitors or union representatives who are sitting on this board. From my hasty inquiries that literally occurred in the last hour or so, I understand that board members have to sign a code of conduct document, but I am conscious that the potential for inappropriate behaviour remains, as we have seen in other areas of administration.
I have been informed that the authority is conducting an independent audit of its governance procedures. I would urge the minister to table this document when it is finalised and to demonstrate that either this concern has been addressed or there is no basis for the concern. I cannot support a contention that there may be a problem. It has been expressed to me. I have not been given sufficient time to make my own inquiries in a thorough fashion, and so I am in no position to make judgment from this side of the Assembly as to whether the apprehension on the part of employers in that industry that information is being relayed to parties is soundly based or whether it is fictitious. I do not want to pass judgment on that.
The problem I have, of course, is that I have had inadequate time to speak to the two major affected industry groups and I think that the minister needs to ensure that he gets on top of these things and take whatever steps he has to take to ensure that we do not get a repeat of this. This is not crisis legislation, Mr Speaker. This is legislation that somebody has left until the 11th hour and then has suddenly tried to rush it through this place, failing to show the appropriate courtesies to the Assembly to ensure that issues that emerge in consultation can be thoroughly investigated.
The other major facet of this legislation is to make it easier for employees in the two named industries to obtain payment in lieu of long service leave. Under the original legislation, employees had to have at least 55 days of recognised service and have reached the prescribed retirement age, which was the earlier of 65 years of age or the age at which the worker first becomes entitled to a pension under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986. Under the changes this legislation introduces, the prescribed retirement age is amended to the earlier of 55 years of age or the entitlement age. This