Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 6 May 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1945 ..
The bill also makes amendments to existing continuity of service provisions to ensure that seasonal workers who work for the same employer over an extended period of time will now be able to access long service leave. These amendments will ensure that long service leave will now cover long-term private sector employees, whether they are casual, part time or full time. The government stands proudly by our agenda to modernise this entitlement to long service leave. We do not believe that this entitlement should simply wither away as employers use changing work demographics to make the work force less permanent. We believe that the amendments here today are an important part of a fair industrial relations framework for the ACT and will result in more employees being able to take an appropriate break in consultation with their employer. Long service leave is not a reward; it is a hard-won entitlement for working people.
Mr Mulcahy is fast developing a reputation as one of the last industrial cold war warriors in the ACT. He sounds as though he would be more comfortable working in the 1980s for Troubleshooters or the like. Uninterested in balancing economic prosperity with fair conditions, Mr Mulcahy represents employers who believe that the only way to profit is at the expense of workers: their wages, their entitlements, their safety and their future. We on the government side know that by far the majority of employers do not agree with Mr Mulcahy. The vast majority of employers know that the best way to profit is to treat their workers fairly and safely so that everybody gets their proper entitlements from their work. This is borne out by the facts on business confidence.
According to the Sensis survey, the ACT recorded the highest rise in business confidence, of eight per cent, of any state or territory up to October 2004. Again, according to the ABL March mid-term report 2005, the ACT is the easiest jurisdiction in which to do business. According to this piece of analysis, our regulator agencies achieve a score of 6.6, well ahead of any other state or territory. Rather than talking up the ACT as a great place to work, as most employers recognise, Mr Mulcahy just wants to talk it down.
The ABS characteristics of small business for the period from June 2003 to June 2004 show an increase of 3,500 small businesses in the ACT. This increase of 21.7 per cent over the previous two years occurred during the time when all of the legislation, which Mr Mulcahy misrepresents as imposts on business, was passed through this Assembly—namely, industrial manslaughter, OH&S enforcement and compliance, and removing the requirements for part-timers to meet a threshold for annual leave. So we on this side think that the good employers will see the benefit of these amendments to long service leave entitlements. Good employers are looking for ways to appropriately recognise the service of their employees—not to deprive them of their just and proper entitlements to good wages and working conditions.
Mr Mulcahy said that workers would be sacked because of this legislation. I would like to remind Mr Mulcahy that it is against the law to sack someone in order to avoid paying or recognising an entitlement. Mr Mulcahy talked about the cost of this legislation, the cost on business, and of course he could not actually quantify the cost on business other than to say there is a cost on business.
The current legislation, coupled with the accounting standard about employee benefits, requires that employers currently make provision for long service leave entitlement after