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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1403 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

There are many projects that come in between $300,000 and $500,000. Perhaps the playground safety program could go. Perhaps the stage 2 refurbishment of Kippax could go. Perhaps the transportable classrooms at Lanyon High and Palmerston could go. Mr Speaker, something is going to have to go in the budget if this is passed. Perhaps the Palmerston community hall would not go ahead. Perhaps the Lanyon neighbourhood and youth centre would not be allowed to go ahead because Mr Berry has not thought this through properly.

Mr Speaker, let me reiterate that even the major players in the industry cannot agree on the introduction of this levy. In this climate, as we found in late 1997 when we looked at this option, it is inappropriate to go ahead with this. For this reason, Mr Speaker, it is inappropriate for the Assembly to force it upon us. The Government will not be voting for this Bill.

MS TUCKER (5.12): The Greens will be supporting Mr Berry's Bill. We will not be supporting Mr Stefaniak's amendments. I do not know whether he has moved them yet. Have you, Mr Stefaniak, moved your amendments? He is not listening. It does not matter.

MR SPEAKER: We are still at the in-principle stage, Ms Tucker.

MS TUCKER: I am aware of Mr Stefaniak's amendments. Anyway, we will not be supporting them. Industry training, we believe, is vital to the improvement of standards and worker competence, particularly in the construction industry. Mr Berry's Bill is a positive step in this direction. This Bill has the support of employee and employer representatives and, as I understand it, the board will comprise employer and employee representatives and an independent member. This is a good cooperative arrangement and it will certainly be to the benefit of industry.

It is difficult to understand why Mr Stefaniak would want to take it out of the hands of those who are best qualified and then give it to VETA. It is quite clear that VETA may have construction industry expertise on it at the moment, but that is not necessarily always going to be the case, and it is really important that industry expertise is represented on the board that implements these sorts of training programs. The Construction Industry Training and Advisory Board is a tripartite entity, and I would understand Mr Stefaniak's concern if this was not the case; but he seems to be saying that VETA has greater capacity to deal with the construction industry than they do themselves. As I said, I do not know that VETA would have the expertise in its membership.

I think these amendments of Mr Stefaniak's are damaging to the cooperative approach which has been taken by the construction industry in what I believe have been years of discussion. The Greens support an industry controlling this levy and having its expertise there to inform how that levy is utilised.

MR BERRY (5.14), in reply: Mr Speaker, I would like to respond to a couple of things that have been said in the course of the debate by the Government. I thank members for their support for the legislation.

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