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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 624 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

no answer, and there is another box somewhere else which says, "Do you mind us doing a police check on you?". Most employees, when they present themselves, I think would say, "That is fair enough. If I have claimed that I do not have a police record, I should be able to allow the employer to check that, if that is what they want to do".

This gets to the duty of care issue which Mr Stefaniak raised. Yes, employers do have a duty of care, but the duty of care is not borne by the employees. The duty of care is borne by the employers, and it is up to the employers to ensure that the employees are fit to carry out their duties responsibly. That is why employees should not be forced to pay for these charges, these administrative costs. A logical extension might involve a whole range of other administrative costs to employees in other areas if it is allowed to stand at this point.

For the poorest of employees, what potential employee would go to the boss when applying for a part-time job and, when faced with the prospect of having the job or not having the job on the basis of $25, say, "I am not paying you the $25."? Mr Stefaniak used as one of the elements of his argument that there have been no complaints. Part-time workers are not going to say to the boss, "I am not going to give you the $25". If they do, they will not get a job. That is a fallacious argument to put in the context of this issue.

The Department of Education and Community Services is trying to transfer some of the cost of education to potential workers. You say so yourself. Fifty thousand dollars or $60,000 is loaded onto workers from out of the community services and health budgets. Potential workers - part-time workers, low-paid workers - are asked to pay a percentage of the education bill that nobody else is asked to pay. That is true, is it not? Of course it is true.

The fact of the matter is that workers should not be forced to pay for the administrative costs of their job, their normal recruitment costs. Evidence was introduced by Mr Rugendyke which I found quite convincing. He made the point that in other places, particularly in areas of community services employment - and they are people who deal with people who are vulnerable and with children - and in areas where they have to be of good character, it is treated as a normal recruitment cost. It is a normal recruitment cost. The ACT is the first place not to treat it as a normal recruitment cost in all areas, including the Department of Education and Community Services, and then only since 1995 and then only by a Liberal government. It never happened before. Here we have a situation on the - - -

Mr Stefaniak: The police have been charging only fairly recently, Wayne.

MR BERRY: Mr Stefaniak says that that is an argument against change. What he is doing is shifting the onus onto potential part-time workers - and poorly paid ones at that, in many cases. This is not a fair and reasonable cost to load onto potential workers. It is unfair. It is grossly unfair for the department to adopt this line. Not one jot of an argument has been put forward by the Minister or any of the other speakers to make out the case for workers in education to be charged this fee and not workers in another place.

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