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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2698 ..

MR BERRY: Mrs Carnell interjects that she does not need to tell me that there is one that I have not answered. I think I have answered them all. The most pressing one, I think, was the issue of long-term contracts. Seven to 10 years was the period used. The entitlements are there then and the contractors should be making provision for them, otherwise they intend to exploit the workers.

I go back to my earlier point. This is not about catching the cheats; it is about providing portability to the scheme to improve access to this benefit, for the same reasons as applied in the construction industry. It is not to catch cheats. Cheats can be caught under the Long Service Leave Act and they are now being caught. I referred earlier to a matter which has been taken to the courts. It involves 50 workers and thousands of dollars. This scheme would prevent some of that occurring. I cannot say that it would prevent all of it occurring, but it would certainly prevent some of it.

Mr Speaker, there is no need for this Bill to go off to a committee. The employers will never agree to this Bill. They have a fundamental ideological opposition to it. It is a benefit to workers. They will complain, as they complained in my office, that it is going to be a tax on jobs and those sorts of things. They would use the same argument for every other benefit that workers receive - their wages, their holiday pay and their sick leave. All of those conditions are a tax on jobs if you adopt that logic.

Mrs Carnell seems to want to embrace a system where workers are exploited by crafty employers. This is an industry where it occurs. I have explained how many employees move around different contractors and how one example of that is in the audience here. She has been 20 years in the business and has no long service leave entitlement. The scheme that I have proposed here is about providing access to long service leave under the ACT Act in a portability scheme which parallels to a large degree one which has applied successfully in the construction industry since 1988. There is no reason to dodge this provision, except on ideological grounds. There is no reason for the Bill to go to a committee. The case for it has been made. We will just hear it all again.

We will hear the employers say that they have seven- to 10-year contracts and we will ask the same questions, such as: "Why are you not providing for this long service leave, then?". We will hear them say that it is a tax on jobs and that they do not provide for it now. We will ask them why they are not providing for it, other than the fact that they might have the intention of avoiding the payment of it or of shifting the workers from one employer to another and those sorts of arrangements. Mr Speaker, I go back to a point that I made earlier in the debate. The only condition of the Oakdale miners that was protected was their long service leave and it was protected because they have a scheme like the one I am proposing.

I recommend that members adopt this Bill and that they not send it to a committee. There is no need for that and it would be an unnecessary delay.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

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