Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 25 October 2018) . . Page.. 4264 ..
scheme operate. Of course, that code will also come before the Assembly and we will be able to scrutinise it, but there has been a draft out for consultation for several months now.
The details of this bill have been laid out well already, including in the recent committee report, so I will not go into them in great detail now. I simply note that, broadly, the bill requires ACT government entities to award contracts only to tenderers that hold a secure local jobs code certificate and, for contracts above $25,000, also have a suitable labour relations training and workplace equity plan. The secure local jobs code certificate requires the entity to agree to the secure local jobs code, which is currently under development. It will require various workplace standards to be followed in areas such as collective bargaining, health and safety, human rights, training and workers compensation.
I agree with the application of the bill to government procurement in the areas of construction, building or industrial cleaning services, and security. Ultimately, I expect it will extend to further labour contracts. But, as audits by WorkSafe have revealed, these initial sectors are the ones where there is a heightened risk of non-compliance with labour standards.
I note the arguments raised by the Liberal Party in opposition to this bill. I do not find them to be cogent arguments. I will discuss some of them in a moment. One also cannot ignore the fact that the Liberal Party always inevitably oppose this type of legislation. For the 10 years I have been in this Assembly, every step of the way, from the harmonised work health and safety laws to the provision of portable long service leave to insecure workers, they have continued to oppose legislation designed to improve workers safety or conditions.
Workers conditions and safety inevitably also seem to become politicised. In the context of this bill, Liberal members have again been talking about a union veto power, which does not exist. It does not matter how many times that suggestion is debunked. The Liberal Party will continue to say it. It is part of a broader political narrative even though it is, in fact, fictional. Union veto did not exist in the procurement MOU and it does not exist in the secure local jobs bill.
Mr Hanson made another suggestion that the legislation should specifically exclude from the board people with a criminal record. I agree with the government that the legislation does not need to do that. Other legislative board appointment processes do not say someone is excluded because of a criminal record. It is not necessary or appropriate to do that, because a person’s criminal record may be completely irrelevant to the inherent requirements of the job. In fact, we have a Discrimination Act that makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of an irrelevant criminal record.
There is plenty of employee guidance material about this produced by the Human Rights Commission and others that describes the potential for discrimination based on an irrelevant criminal record and how it is inappropriate to make assumptions about people or limit their employment opportunities based on this fact.