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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3229 ..

continue to drive safe and secure jobs for Canberrans, encouraging suppliers to meet the highest standards relating to pay, employment conditions, superannuation, the health and safety of their workers and the payment of tax in line with both the code obligations and workplace laws.

I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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) (11.29): I am pleased to present the Government Procurement Amendment Bill 2021 along with Minister Steel. This bill amends the Government Procurement Act 2001 to improve the operation of the Secure Local Jobs Code.

When the ACT government introduced the Secure Local Jobs Code in 2019 it was a nation-leading suite of measures, and it still is. The government only wants to do business with suppliers who treat their workers fairly. It is important that we use our significant buying power to look to protect workers in the ACT and ensure good safety and good project outcomes. Government contracts should only be awarded to businesses that meet the highest ethical and labour standards.

Businesses demonstrate that they can meet their obligations under the code by completing a labour relations, workplace training and equity plan. These plans include information on how entities will comply with the code and how they support employment security, health and wellbeing, diversity and career development for workers. The plan must be developed in consultation with employees and include a statement about how this was done. The successful tenderer will need to operate in alignment with the plan for the duration of the project.

Late last year I was presented with a review of the operations of the Secure Local Jobs Code by the Secure Local Jobs Advisory Council. The council consists of representatives from employers and employees from industries covered by the code. I want to put on the record my appreciation for the work of the advisory council and for their insightful review. Many of these members were involved in the very inception of the code and I know that they take pride in it, as we do in government. The amendments in the bill today address recommendations made by the council. The amendments will better enable practical implementation and further enhance the code.

The review outlined legislative changes that should be made to strengthen the powers of the registrar. Central to this legislative change is the amendment to section 22 of the act. Minister Steel has outlined how these changes will enhance the powers of the registrar to enter premises and investigate code-certified entities. This change will mean stricter adherence to the code and better outcomes for workers on ACT government projects.

The advisory council also recommended that greater emphasis be given to existing tools within the pre-procurement process, especially the labour relations, workplace training and equity plans.

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