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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3789 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

I propose that a detailed examination should be carried out of the current situation relating to legislation and practices which are already in place and that a report should be made back to this committee. Without this further information I cannot agree with the conclusion that the current regimes cannot be amended to encompass the needs implicit in Mr Berry's Bill.

Mr Speaker, I and some submitters, including the Government, have expressed concern over the financial management of funds generated under the terms of the Bill. It is apparent that in time there will be a surplus of funds, but in the short term the scheme will cost more to run than it generates in income. Managing the surplus funds will, in itself, present some interesting challenges, as we have learnt from the construction industry scheme. I consider that a full actuarial study is needed before serious debate of the Bill can proceed.

My final point in relation to the Bill is that its very existence ignores the fact that the Commonwealth is right now considering initiatives to protect the long service leave rights of workers. Until the results of these considerations are known and until the other problems and actions which I have outlined earlier are addressed, I recommend that the Bill should not proceed.

Mr Speaker, committee members have received copies of the National Competition Policy Review of the Long Service Leave (Building and Construction Industry) Act 1981 prepared for ACT WorkCover by the Allen Consulting Group. I expect that proponents of Mr Berry's Bill may attempt to use this report to assist in justifying their case. I would like to read into the record one very important statement made by the report's authors, and I quote:

While there may be some other industries in which employees follow the project and not the employer, the (Allen) Group's support of portability for the building and construction industry should not be interpreted as support for the concept more generally.

In other words, Mr Speaker, any attempt to portray the Allen review as being supportive of this Bill is not founded on the actuality of that document.

Mr Speaker, I am fully supportive of the right of all workers to have access to fair long service conditions. I just do not believe at this time that the Bill which we are discussing provides the correct mechanism to achieve the desired result. At this stage I have not opposed the Bill outright. I have just asked for a period of reflection that will allow a number of other events to unfold and for more background work to be done.

In closing, Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the committee members for the straightforward way in which they have approached this very complex issue. I also express the committee's gratitude to all those who addressed the committee or gave written material for our consideration. As usual, I would like to thank our hardworking, ever competent secretary, Mr Rod Power.

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