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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 August 2010) . . Page.. 3768 ..


Unfortunately, it is clear that the ideal world of perfect employers that Mr Seselja was referring to in his comments simply does not exist. It is simply not the case. We were told quite a number of stories of situations of individuals who were, frankly, ripped off by their employers, who were not given what they were entitled to for the work that they put in and who had various of their employment conditions ignored, overridden and run roughshod over. In an industry like the security industry, people are working odd hours, odd shifts, and they often operate on a solo basis and are not necessarily in a workplace where they have the opportunity to talk to their colleagues. People often learn these things informally in the workplace about what their rights are. In that context, in essence, what we are seeing here is an opportunity for free training and an opportunity to understand more clearly what an employee’s rights are.

That is important in the context of the evidence we see, particularly in this industry. I suspect that is the situation in some others, but today we are looking at security. I accept that that is a problem. I accept that this is, hopefully, a successful means to address some of these concerns. I think we need to accept that employees of the security industry will have the ability to say no if they do not wish to join the union. We do not believe this is a path to compulsory unionism. It may be that more people join, having been exposed to the positive benefits of the union, but I do not believe that is a bad thing.

I wanted to make those observations in light of my comments in the previous debate on this. It is consistent for us to take this approach. I think it is important that we take this opportunity to extend these protections to employees who, the evidence clearly shows, are not receiving the benefits that they are entitled to.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.58), in reply: I thank those members who have indicated their support for this bill. This bill is all about education. It is all about knowledge and it is all about empowering workers to understand their rights at work. What is so objectionable about that that the Liberal Party want to oppose this bill? At the end of the day, that is what this bill does—it gives workers knowledge; it gives workers information. Information is, of course, power. It allows you to stand up for your rights. It allows you to know what you are entitled to receive, how you are entitled to be treated and how you are entitled to engage with your employer at work. That is why this legislation is important.

The bill amends the Security Industry Act to enable access to important workplace information for all workers in the security industry. Why is it needed in the security industry, Madam Deputy Speaker? It is needed in the security industry because, in practice, security industry employees have a very limited opportunity to access information which enables them to work more efficiently and safely.

Most security industry employees only have the opportunity for short, quick breaks, during which they have just enough time to have a meal and go to the toilet. This, combined with the fact that most workers work in isolation in disparate locations and often at hours when most of us are tucked up safely at home in bed, means that security industry employees are not always able to access information from those who would otherwise be able to provide it.


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