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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 25 October 2018) . . Page.. 4268 ..

actions under clause 22S. This function is critical to ensuring that any compliance action that is taken by the registrar is appropriate and has been substantiated by evidence.

This bill seeks to establish positive links between good employment practices and high quality services being delivered in the territory. It will reward those employers that exemplify good behaviour and provide safe and fair workplaces for their workers. By supporting this bill we are saying that we want to do business with entities that are good employers. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (11.56): In 1891 a group of shearers gathered under a tree in Queensland as part of a general strike, protesting against cuts to pay and conditions in what was one of Australia’s largest and wealthiest industries at the time. These shearers took action against unethical behaviour by bosses. In the end, the forces of conservatism won, and the strike was broken. Crucially, however, the spirit of the labour movement lived on. That very next year ordinary workers gathered under that same tree to form the nucleus of the now Australian Labor Party, a party dedicated to workers’ rights.

From 1891 to now, the struggle for workers’ rights has been fought many times; and despite, the setbacks and always the poisonous opposition to workers’ rights by the forces of conservatism, our history has been one of progress. When we started in 1891 there was no sick leave, no annual leave, no eight-hour day, no overtime, no unfair dismissal. I could go on and on.

Of course, not all reforms have been perfect, and we can always do more. But they have all moved us in the right direction. The secure local jobs code moves us in the right direction. It should not be controversial to say that a territory contract should only be awarded to those who treat their workers properly, protect and encourage their rights, and pay them appropriately. Too often we see sham contracting where workers get a pittance and the fat cats in management collect a nice salary for landing a government contract. There is no place in our society for this kind of behaviour, and no-one in this chamber should be defending it.

Companies bidding for contract work over certain thresholds in the ACT will need to hold a secure local jobs code certificate and a labour relations training and workplace equity plan. Is it so revolutionary that we are asking companies that are preparing to take money from the taxpayer to show us that they are going to engage with workers and treat them properly? Companies seeking government contracts should be held to the highest ethical standards.

It honestly shows the absolute depth the opposition has sunk to with its blatant hostility to workers. Workers are entitled to organise, and unions are entitled to enter worksites. These are federal laws, after all. Any company that does not want to treat their workers or their representatives with respect and fairly under the law does not deserve to do work in this territory.

Why is this jobs code so important? Wage theft, sham contracting, phoenix contracts and other dodgy practices are rife across Canberra. Across different industries,

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