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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2758 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

from. It is a number dreamed up by somebody. If it is the case that the scheme is more expensive than it needs to be, then it might mean that money is not going where it should go but rather going to feed the bureaucracy. Other problems have been identified. I would be prepared to support the Bill in principle and see it referred to a committee for investigation and report on those issues that have been brought up.

MR OSBORNE (5.58): My understanding is that the legislation has the numbers to be supported in principle. I will support it. Once again we are faced with some information coming out of left field. This legislation has been on the table for 18 months. It was one of the first Bills tabled in this Assembly, so I am intrigued by the delay in someone providing those of us on the crossbench with information which may impact on our decision. I have given Mr Berry an undertaking to support the legislation. I will do that, but I am prepared to take it to the Justice Committee to have a look at some of the things raised by the Government.

The approach of some people in throwing issues on the table on the day the Bill is debated is regrettable. I think all of us have shown patience, but my patience is wearing thin. As I said, this Bill has been on the table for a long time. I had no discussion with anyone from the Government about it until either late yesterday or today. I will be supporting it in principle and I am happy to look at it in committee, but it will be only a short inquiry.

MS TUCKER (6.00): The Greens support Mr Berry's amendments to the Agent Act. We think it is very important in the current volatile employment market of contracts, poor job security and redundancies that consumers have adequate protection. Considering that most providers are funded by the Commonwealth funded Job Network, I do not believe this will be a burden to the industry. Job Network service providers and those agents funded by the ACT Government are required to meet contractual requirements that cover conflict of interest, privacy and financial probity issues.

Mr Berry's amendments ensure that agents who are not government service providers are regulated. This is important. We have had positive feedback about this legislation from the community sector that we have consulted with. I think it is quite appropriate. I will support it in principle. If it is going to go to a committee, I hope it is not for very long.

MR BERRY (6.01), in reply: Now that the Bill is obviously going to head off to a committee - I am prepared to accept that - it is probably unnecessary for me to go into extensive detail about the issues that Mr Humphries raised. But it is necessary for me to make a few points. The first one is that this legislation essentially mirrors what occurs in New South Wales. New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have similar legislation. On many occasions we have argued in this place that if it is an improvement we ought to use New South Wales as a guide. We have argued, on the other hand, that if there would be a detrimental effect we might not use New South Wales. I think this is an improvement. It goes to the issue of prohibiting agents from charging a potential employee for their job - no more than that. It looks rather more complex because it fits into a scheme of regulation for other agents and there are a number of agents involved.

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