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Construction Industry - Long Service Leave Levy

MR HIRD: I address a question to the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Tony De Domenico. Minister, I understand that there has been a reduction in the levy imposed on employee wages in the building and construction industry. Will you inform the parliament what levy is imposed on employees' wages by the Construction Industry Long Service Leave Board and why this impost was not reduced at an earlier date?

MR DE DOMENICO: I thank the member for his question.

Ms Follett: I think we can answer that one.

MR DE DOMENICO: You can answer all of them; but this one, in particular, gives me a great deal of pleasure, as members will know, because some years ago - in fact, in the first year of the Follett Government - there were recommendations made by actuaries and the Long Service Leave Board to the then Minister for Industrial Relations, Mr Berry, suggesting that the long service leave levy, which was then 2.5 per cent, be reduced to 1.5 per cent. I recall that that was in 1991. In 1992 the same recommendation from the same people, once again, came to Mr Berry; with still no reaction from Mr Berry. In 1993, once again the same recommendation from the actuaries and from all the other people came to Mr Berry; and once again Mr Berry sat on his hands.

Mr Hird: As usual.

MR DE DOMENICO: As usual. The majority of Assembly members then supported a private members Bill which called on Mr Berry to do what actuaries and other people had recommended that he do over a number of years. In fact, I recall that at one stage Mr Moore and Ms Szuty said to Mr Berry, “You have another 12 months; and, if you do not do it within 12 months, then this Assembly will have to do something about it”. At that stage Mr Berry was given prior warning by members of this Assembly that this Assembly wanted him to act in a certain way. As usual, Mr Berry took no heed of what the community and this Assembly wanted; so, it was left to the Assembly to pass a private members Bill which, in fact, reduced the long service leave levy in the building industry from 2.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent. That meant an immediate input into the building industry of about $1m.

About two or three weeks ago what this Government did, with the stroke of a pen, once again acting on the recommendations by all sorts of people, including the actuaries, was to reduce it from 1.5 per cent to one per cent - a further half a million dollars reduction in the levy. It was done because currently the long service leave levy fund has an $18m surplus. The Federal Labor Government in its budget last night put a 12 per cent impost on the cost of building materials. At a time when the building and construction industry, especially the housing area, is going into a slump in the ACT, this Government made a decision, immediately on taking office, which will help the building and construction industry, because the building and construction industry is a big employer of young people in the ACT and a big employer of apprentices.

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