Page 146 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 9 February 2022

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commitment to ensuring that we only engage with businesses that meet the highest ethical and labour standards. The ACT government is leading the nation in our commitment to secure employment. When the Labor government introduced the secure local jobs code back in 2019, it was the first of its kind. Now other states are doing similar work, based on what we have done in the ACT.

The amendments ensure that our procurement practices remain in a nation-leading position as we strive to support workers, particularly those in industries where insecure work and poor employment practices are common. The changes we are making today support a more robust procurement process and will enhance the overall operation of the secure local jobs code. The amendments to the code will provide strengthened powers and regulatory options for the registrar. The registrar will be able to effectively monitor compliance with the code to ensure that it continues to support secure local jobs in the ACT and to set an example for other jurisdictions.

We have made these changes on the recommendation of the Secure Local Jobs Code Advisory Council. In late 2020, the council undertook a review of the operation of the code and delivered their recommendations to the government. The review included 10 recommendations to further strengthen the code and its effectiveness in supporting secure local employment. The amendments here stem directly, of course, from three review recommendations, which focused on strengthening the act and the government procurement regulation.

The bill gives effect to the advisory council’s recommendation in several ways. It amends section 22S of the act to, firstly, enhance the secure local jobs registrar’s powers to obtain information or documentation to improve compliance with the code obligations and make determinations, and it provides the registrar with appropriate inspection and entry powers to undertake investigations into noncompliance with the code obligations.

These changes will mean that the registrar will be equipped with the power to effectively monitor compliance with the code. Authorised officers will now be able to enter the premises of a code-certified entity performing territory-funded work to inspect, examine, ask questions or gather information about their compliance with the secure local jobs code. This will assist in cases where noncompliance is suspected or has been reported to the registrar. These changes will also strengthen the registrar’s engagement with relevant regulatory authorities to ensure that entities are complying with workplace laws. Information and documents obtained from an investigation will now be shared with regulatory authorities responsible for administering a workplace law if noncompliance with workplace laws is found whilst conducting compliance activities under the code.

The bill additionally provides significantly strengthened powers for the registrar to suspend or place conditions on a code-certified entity’s certificate if they have reasonable grounds to suspect failure to comply with the code. This power is critical to ensuring that repeatedly noncompliant companies are not rewarded by receiving contracts with the ACT government. The registrar’s ability to temporarily suspend code certification while an investigation is underway and cancel when appropriate is

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