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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 165 ..

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Cody for the question. The ACT government does recognise that it can play an important role in delivering better outcomes for Canberra workers. That is why the ACT government has committed to delivering a secure local jobs package to provide greater transparency while making clear the government’s expectation that the companies it purchases services from are behaving ethically in their dealings with workers and indeed subcontractors.

Too often over recent years we have seen evidence, both locally and nationally, of employers entering into sham contracting arrangements exploiting visa workers and avoiding their industrial workers compensation and taxation obligations. Quite simply, these are not the sorts of employers to whom government should be giving their business. And that is why we have recently launched a public consultation on the design of a secure local jobs package.

The proposed package will streamline existing procurement requirements, create clear requirements for businesses tendering for government work, treat workers fairly and uphold their workplace rights and safety, enhance compliance and enforcement measures through a new unit within government and provide a clear, transparent process for resolving issues that arise with respect to ACT government contracts. The measures introduced in the package will provide the ACT government, as a purchaser of services, with greater assurance that the businesses it contracts with treat their workers fairly and comply with their industrial relations and employment obligations.

This government makes no apologies for standing up for the rights of workers in this city. Canberra is a city with a strong belief in fairness and I think the vast majority of Canberrans would agree that their taxpayer dollars should go to companies that abide by their industrial obligations, take workplace safety seriously and pay workers fairly.

MS CODY: Minister, what compliance and enforcement measures are proposed to ensure that these ethical and labour standards are upheld?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Cody for her supplementary question and for her longstanding interest in this matter. While the key focus of the proposed package is working with businesses to ensure that they meet higher ethical and labour standards, the package also includes a range of compliance and enforcement measures which ensure that these standards are upheld.

The package proposes the establishment of a compliance unit within government to oversee, monitor and review the measures introduced. The key role for the unit will be to monitor and report on compliance actions to establish an evidence base for targeting future compliance activities as well as monitoring companies’ records for consideration of future tendering opportunities.

The compliance and enforcement mechanisms under the secure local jobs package will leverage off and enhance the existing industrial relations and employment certification strategy—IRE, as it is known. Under the package, an entity will be required to hold an IRE certificate in order to be awarded ACT government contracts for certain categories of contracts, expanding it from the current requirement only in relation to construction.

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