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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 February 2018) . . Page.. 522 ..


undercut by competitors who are doing the wrong thing. Well, we are not going to let that happen.

The employers in Canberra that do the right thing by their staff—not just the straightforward dollars and cents stuff but the real, moral responsibility of caring for their staff by providing training, employment participation and wellbeing initiatives—will get ahead under this legislation. What about the paperwork? This legislation will make it easier—you heard me—for businesses to bid for government work. We will streamline tender processes and we will create transparent processes to resolve issues that arise.

I find it strange that the Canberra Liberals are so opposed to legislation like this. Are they not talking to the same business owners that I do? Don’t they have people in their ear complaining that they are getting undercut by companies that are ripping their workers off? Well, it appears not. It appears they have someone in their ear telling them that more scrutiny is a bad thing. They have someone in their ear that is benefiting from the current procurement processes.

On this side of the chamber we know that unions are an important part of the workplace. There is a fundamental power imbalance between an employee and employer that is only countered by the collective power of working people. We know that unions provide a voice to employees who do not feel safe to speak out under their own name. We know that unions are the best and only way to ensure the prosperity of working people in Canberra.

That is why this legislation, like the Fair Work Act and the Work Health and Safety Act, enshrines the rights and responsibilities of trade unions. We believe that the wellbeing of workers in Canberra is about more than dollars and cents; it is about a workplace that ensures that working Canberrans are aware of and free to utilise their workplace rights. We believe that workers should be empowered and protected by formal structures in their workplace.

In conclusion, I would like to reaffirm my support for this motion and for a secure jobs package that will ensure Canberra’s workers who are working on government jobs are paid properly, treated fairly and return home from work safe each day.

MS ORR (Yerrabi) (4.16): I rise today to speak in support of this motion. I rise to highlight the difficulties experienced by workers struggling with insecure work on the minimum wage. But in first addressing the motion before the Assembly today there is a pressing question that we, not just the ACT but as a nation, must start to ask: at what point? At what point do we say no to wage theft and exploitation? Is it a small mum and dad business trying to make ends meet? Is it a bustling cafe not paying penalty rates? Is it a celebrity chef with their own personal brand? Or is it a multinational company employing hundreds of Australians? Regardless of who does it and for what reason, wage theft is just that—theft. A key problem with failing to enforce employers to pay employees what they are owed is that if you ignore it at one level, it only makes it harder to enforce the rules on other employers.


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