Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3791 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
That solution, Mr Speaker, was that the coverage of the Bill be extended to include those other awards that he was concerned about. But he did not make that recommendation, Mr Speaker. Why did he not make that recommendation? I put it to the Assembly, Mr Speaker, that he did not make that recommendation because if he had done so he would have had no reason for opposing the Bill. He would have had no reason whatsoever.
Clearly, Mr Speaker, the Government's agenda from day one has been to say, "This Bill should not pass". I think that particular instance highlights why I take the very strong view that this Government is simply not interested in having this Bill passed. Even when it has positive solutions available to it, it chooses to ignore them.
Mr Speaker, I am pleased that Mr Rugendyke and I were able to reach the position where we can say, "This Bill should proceed". I want to make one very important point - it is detailed in the report but I think it is worth reiterating - about why this Bill should proceed. It relates to the provisions of the Long Service Leave Act 1976. As was pointed out to the inquiry, the problem with the Long Service Leave Act was that it placed an unfair burden on a small number of employers who had to pick up the total cost of the long service leave entitlements of their employees even if those employees had only been employed for a year or even less, such as six months or two months.
Mr Coen, in his evidence to the inquiry, highlighted the fact that section 10A of the Long Service Leave Act meant that it would cause injustice to contractors who were made responsible for the long service leave obligations of former contractors, and I think that speaks for itself. Is it fair for an individual business operator, a contract cleaner operator, to have to pick up the entire long service leave entitlement of their employees even if that operator has only employed that employee for two months or six months or a year? Is it fair for that operator to have to pick up the entire 10 years? Quite clearly it is not. In fact, it is an imposition on the business. I would have thought the Government was interested in removing impositions from business, but it is not in this case. It does not seem to be the case here. That still puzzles me, but that seems to be the very strange position they are taking.
The way to rectify the problem with section 10A is to implement Mr Berry's Bill because it means the burden is shared fairly. For the period of time when the employer has the employee under contract the employer is entitled to set aside provisions for their long service leave entitlement for that period of time, no more and no less. That is a fair arrangement. It means each employer contributes fairly to the obligation they have to meet their employees' long service leave entitlement - no more and no less. That, Mr Speaker, I think, is the only responsible way to manage it.
In fact, relying on the Long Service Leave Act itself actually creates a handicap, not only on the employer but also on the employee, because employers, if they know they are going to have to meet an employee's obligation under the Long Service Leave Act, will obviously seek, wherever possible, to employ employees who are not going to come up for long service leave in a hurry because that way they will not have to meet the requirements to pay the long service leave for the full 10 years. So, it actually is a tool or