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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 May 2018) . . Page.. 1549 ..


In March 2017 the Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs resolved to conduct an inquiry into the extent, nature and consequence of insecure work in the ACT. The committee initiated this inquiry to find out more about how a range of work and employment arrangements operate in the ACT. The committee wanted to explore the consequences for ACT workers, employers and the community of the shift away from traditional Australian full-time ongoing employment structure to alternative forms of employment such as casual employment and independent contracting.

The committee conducted three public hearings and published 39 submissions and two supplementary submissions. Unfortunately, in deliberations the committee was unable to reach agreement on recommendations arising from this inquiry. The committee has agreed on a brief report providing an overview of the inquiry process. Committee members have also submitted additional and dissenting comments in accordance with standing order 251, which I am sure others will speak to today.

The committee would like to acknowledge the significant contributions from those participating in the inquiry either by providing submissions or attending as witnesses. Whilst the committee has not reached agreement on recommendations, the evidence provided was informative and has contributed to robust community debate.

I would like now to provide the Assembly with an overview of the recommendations from Mr Steel and me that are provided in the additional comments annexed to the report. Our community is being ravaged by insecure work. For the last two decades we have seen the level of permanent work decline and in its place we have seen insecure work grow—that is, casual work, contract work and labour hire. We now see an economic future for far too many with little economic security and little control over their working lives. I fundamentally believe this is a bad thing for our city.

The impact of insecure work is devastating. Working people are unable to plan their future, or make time to spend with loved ones. They cannot get a bank loan for either a house or car, and when they are at work they are more likely to stay silent about risks to their health and safety. All of these things have an impact on their life. They are stressed, they are worried, and their families will experience it as well. I recognise these dangers, but there are too many who do not. That is why I think we need to take action where we can take action. That is what the recommendations of Mr Steel and I are about: where the ACT government can take action, they should.

Before the ACT government get to work drafting legislation for this place to consider, they need to stand up and make some pretty important statements about its values. They need to say it is not good enough that labour hire employees can be paid less than the colleagues they work alongside who are directly employed. They need to say Australia needs a national labour hire scheme so there is nowhere to hide for shonky operators. They need to tell the Fair Work Ombudsman that they do not spend enough time on the beat right here in the ACT. And they need to say that Australia should be a signatory to the International Labour Organisation. It is not good enough that we will not sign important parts of the treaty. That is what the ACT government needs to say, but more important than what they say is what they should do.


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