Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 351 ..
I urge the Assembly to disallow this instrument and give the minister’s office the opportunity to reflect on the ambiguities and the potential for risky litigation that the passage of this disallowable instrument would bring and to get it right so that businesses, employees and employer groups are not wondering what a very significant code means to them and how it impacts their bargaining negotiations.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.25): The government opposes the motion before us. Let me be very clear: the Secure Local Jobs Code is an instrumental reform which we are very proud of. The Secure Local Jobs Code package of measures has strengthened the government’s procurement practices to improve ethical and labour standards in business.
It is important to be clear that this is not, fundamentally, a piece of legislation regulating working conditions. The code does not regulate employers in the way that the Fair Work Act does. The requirements under the Secure Local Jobs Code were introduced by the government to create a fairer procurement process for ethical employees and to hold to account businesses’ procurement processes which do not meet the industrial and legal obligations. This legislation ensures that public money is spent in accordance with the values and expectations of this community.
If we are to be an equitable and inclusive jurisdiction, it is incumbent on us to ensure that our procurement processes provide secure local jobs. If industry had a perfect record of ethical procurement and treating workers fairly, we would have no need for a Secure Local Jobs Code. The reality is that some businesses choose profit over ethical standards, and this community expects that public funds will be used ethically.
The Secure Local Jobs Code sets out the government’s expectations on workplace standards for our service providers, including: pay and employment conditions; insurance, tax and superannuation; health and safety, including training and instructors; and collective bargaining, freedom of association and representation rights.
Under the code, businesses tendering for government work in the construction, cleaning, security or traffic management sectors and businesses tendering for ACT government contract work worth over $200,000 that is predominantly for labour need to meet workplace standards as outlined by the Secure Local Jobs Code. In order to tender for territory-funded work, these businesses must have a Secure Local Jobs Code certificate and must also complete a labour relations training and workplace equity plan if the value of the work is more than $25,000.
As of 9 February 2021, 1,842 businesses hold a secure local jobs code certificate. This figure demonstrates that the code has been well received by employers and that thousands of employees have received the benefits of working under the Secure Local Jobs Code.
Following operational experience over the 12 months of the code and feedback from stakeholders seeking clarity on how to comply with their obligations under the code,