Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 3926..
MR BERRY (continuing):
long service leave. It was this consultation that led Labor to promise before the 2001 Legislative Assembly election that it would put in place a new private sector long service leave scheme.
In recent years, there has been uncertainty about industrial relations policy settings in the ACT because of the Howard government's propensity to intervene in the territory's affairs, so it is timely to introduce this bill today in the wake of the demise of the Howard government. It is also time to take strong steps to restore fairness in the workplace, so undermined in the Howard years. I have been committed over my entire career in the union movement and in this Assembly to improving the lot of ordinary working people. It is with pride that I introduce this bill today.
This bill that I am introducing today adopts the proven models in place for the building and construction industry and the contract cleaning industry. As I said earlier, it is a portable scheme where the entitlements of workers are held in a secure fund managed by a tripartite governing board from government, business and unions. Remember that this is the sort of scheme that was recommended for adoption by an inquiry of this Assembly in the last term of the Assembly.
The fund is the product of a levy collected from all employers and held in trust for the workers and distributed in accordance with the provisions of the bill under the control of the governing board. The levy is set by actuarial assessments a minimum of three years apart and applies to all ACT employers and workers. Investments and borrowing are governed by the provisions of the territory's Financial Management Act. Of course, we will not forget that these funds report to the Assembly annually.
The levy in operation in the Long Service Leave (Contract Cleaning Industry) Act stands at two per cent of salary, and I expect that this will be the rate set in the early stages of operation of this new scheme. Experience in the building and construction industry scheme has shown that this rate will fall dramatically over time. For example, the building and construction industry scheme levy began at 2.5 per cent and has now fallen to one per cent. The scheme has over $60 million in reserves and 50 per cent more entitlements than for other workers in the private sector.
Finally, I would like to thank all those who have helped in the preparation of the bill and all those who have talked to me about the need for legislation before the last election. Parliamentary counsel have brought their usual skill, care and attention to what is a complex task. I also thank those who have scrutinised the bill and made suggestions to improve it, particularly the unions who recognise the need and those who already have a scheme and have offered their expert advice. I trust it will also please those who want more fairness for workers. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss all aspects of this bill with Labor colleagues and, of course, those interested in the business world and workers. I commend this bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Mulcahy ) adjourned to the next sitting.
Children and Young People Amendment Bill 2007
Mrs Burke, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.
Title read by Clerk.