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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3866 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

a) the individual has been engaged by the employer under a contract for services to work for the employer; and

b) 80% or more of the individual's income while working under the contract is earned under the contract; and

c) the individual personally does part or all of the work.

(2) For this Act, the individual is taken to be an employee employed by the employer.

Mr Speaker, that is in addition to the definition in proposed section 3B of who is an employee; and, of course, an employer is defined in proposed section 3A and cleaning work and the contract cleaning industry is described in proposed section 3.

Mr Speaker, I think these amendments will provide a catch-all for those people who fall through the cracks as a result of individual contracts. Individual contracts are a cruel tool when they are used for low-paid workers. I think the move by Endoxos to improve its trading position by moving to individual contracts was rather cruel.

Somebody said to me at one point, "Well, what do the workers think? They might like it." I cannot imagine a worker liking a proposition where they have got to buy their own workers compensation insurance, because it will cost them more-more than they can afford-if they want the same benefits. I cannot imagine a worker liking the prospect of paying for their own annual leave and sick leave. I cannot imagine a worker liking the prospect of paying their long service leave levy, which incidentally they cannot pay into this system.

The minister said to me, "Well, that might be legal." So what if it is legal-it is wrong. The law needs to be changed to make it illegal if they try to escape these conditions. That is why we have developed a rather sophisticated industrial relations scheme over many years in this country. Probably people on the hill like Peter Reith and John Howard worked hard to try to undo all of that scheme so that they could weaken the position of workers. The attempt by this cleaning contractor to escape his obligation to provide these benefits is an example of the responsibility that we, as elected legislators, have to defend ordinary working people.

Mr Speaker, I do not need to say any more about the issue. I think I have just about touched on all the issues which people would be concerned about. I say again that this place supported the Long Service Leave (Cleaning, Building and Property Services) Bill to make sure that there was a level playing field for all cleaning workers. We supported this bill because we thought it was fair. We saw that workers in that industry were being exploited and we wanted to make it better for them. It appears that an employer is trying to wriggle out. I think this 80 per cent rule will fix the problem. Mr Speaker, that is the aim of the amendment that I will move at the appropriate point.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (9.59), in reply: Mr Berry finishes by saying he "thinks". We are here tonight because Mr Berry thought and Mr Berry got it wrong. Have no doubt that we are here tonight to fix the mistakes that we warned would appear. We were ignored and here we are again fixing up another bill in the litany of hasty bills that Labor has brought forward to fix mistakes that they think exist but cannot quantify. We have had to come back to fix the bad law that Labor and the Assembly have passed.

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