Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 February 2018) . . Page.. 515 ..
These are just some of the matters that I think we might consider when we talk about high ethical standards when it comes to procurement, and this is not where some of this started. I think as we go through this discussion these are the sorts of factors that need to be incorporated. But at the end of the day this is about making sure that, as a significant procurer of services in this territory, the ACT government must make sure that when we are spending taxpayers’ money we are doing it in an ethical way that supports secure jobs, supports safe jobs and supports ethical procurement practices.
We very much look forward to the outcomes of this consultation. We welcome the fact that the government is undertaking it. I welcome the opportunity provided by Ms Cody in moving this motion to discuss these issues today and to indicate that the Greens are supportive of these sorts of practices when it comes to government procurement processes.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (3.51): I rise to speak on the motion brought by Ms Cody and thank her for bringing it forward. Better protection for Canberra workers and a level playing field for local business, greater transparency, strengthened compliance, fair competition for government contracts—these are just some of the outcomes we will deliver for the territory with the implementation of our secure local jobs package.
As set out in Ms Cody’s motion, for too long 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. For too long we have heard complaints from local businesses—businesses doing the right thing by their workers—of being undercut by unscrupulous companies competing for contracts.
As recently as December last year the Fair Work Ombudsman released a report showing that a re-audit of 80 Canberra businesses revealed 40 per cent remained non-compliant the second time around. To us, this situation is simply unacceptable. While the opposition chooses to ignore these facts, we are getting on with consultations about measures to harness the government’s significant purchasing power and use it to improve outcomes for both workers and local businesses.
The local jobs package will promote job security, ensure that government contracts are awarded only to companies that meet high ethical and labour standards and create an efficient, clear and transparent governance regime. As I have said before, it is hard to see what the opposition could object to in that list, but then again maybe it is not so hard! The ACT Liberals are clearly in lock step with their federal counterparts’ ideologically driven war on workers and unions. This war is exemplified by the Australian Building and Construction Commission’s latest missive banning the display of the Eureka Stockade or Southern Cross flag. And as for union stickers, forget it.