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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 25 October 2018) . . Page.. 4261 ..

MR WALL (Brindabella) (11.31): It will come as no surprise that the opposition will not be supporting the bill before us today. This bill illustrates once again the tale of two cities, the tale of two kinds of businesses, and perpetuates an “us versus them” mentality. On the back of this legislation the ACT can be seen as a place that acknowledges that there are two kinds of tenderers for government work in the ACT—those with union affiliation and those without. And make no mistake, this bill has nothing to do with keeping workers safe but lots to do with union influence and union membership in this town.

We will continue to be at odds with those on the other side of the chamber on the undue influence of unions. They want it; we do not. It is as simple as that. They also need the influence of trade unions. They rely on it to pursue and further their political careers. Those of us on this side of the chamber do not.

What we do agree on is the importance of government work being awarded to those entities that have a proven track record and an ability to deliver work, but that is where the similarity seems to end. The additions brought by this bill to the burdensome procurement process already in place are onerous for business and will do nothing—I reiterate, nothing—to improve safety on worksites or bring any more rigour to the existing procurement guidelines.

As the Canberra Business Chamber stated during the inquiry held into this legislation, the legislation will not produce the desired procurement objectives. The chamber also said that to “introduce further regulation and administrative requirements on local business appears counterproductive and unnecessary, and may only serve as a disincentive to our critical and economically important SMEs tendering on such works”. The bill is part of the very public agenda of the Labor-Greens coalition government and the union movement that backs them. I have said it before and I will say it again: this bill ultimately legislates for trade union involvement in all government procurement. It legislates Labor’s dirty little secret—the MOU—into law. This will infiltrate all industries and all workplaces in the ACT if we allow it to progress.

The reaction from industry peak bodies, including the Canberra Business Chamber, HIA and MBA, has all been well documented, particularly following the inquiry into the bill by the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Tourism. Overwhelmingly the reaction from these peak bodies is that they feel the concerns from industry have not been taken into account and that the details, particularly around the implementation of this legislation, prove that little, if any, of their feedback has been taken on board. In fact, they believe they have been ignored completely.

Worse still, businesses are fearful of publicly speaking out because of recrimination. This is not perception; this is the reality. In a small town such as Canberra, those who seek to voice their objections or their concerns to this long-entrenched government often pay the financial price. This bill does not fulfil any objective other than to strip away businesses’ autonomy and grant trade unions a free kick. Not to take into account any consideration of the impacts on business is a damning oversight.

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