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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3801 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

I am not sure that Ms Gallagher has made out a compelling case to introduce extraterritorial code measures which are needed to supplement the national code. We on this side of the house support-I think all members of this place do-workers against exploitation. But the opposition will certainly not support the implementation of any unnecessary duplicating legislation, and we will be alert to that possibility.

We will be pleased to examine any government proposal, but we will do that against the reality that there are existing protections nationally, agreed by all of the national and jurisdictional stakeholders. We will look at what the government may seek to introduce, and we will do so against those national benchmarks.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.47): Mr Speaker, the government welcomes the motion from Ms Gallagher today, because it raises a very important issue. Unlike Mr Pratt, who could be characterised as a conservative in search of an argument, the government is keen to explore the possibilities outlined in Ms Gallagher's motion.

The motion talks about nationwide concerns. We do not have a large or significant textile manufacturing industry here in the ACT. But it is highly likely that in homes around Canberra small numbers of people are engaged in this type of labour. We do not know whether or not they engaged in a way which is ethical, is fair and respects the rights of the people doing that work. So it is worth while exploring these issues.

Further, it is worth while considering the implementation of a mandatory code of practice for retailers in the ACT. The issue is one which I know my colleague Mr Stanhope, as minister responsible for consumer affairs, will speak more about shortly. But it is worth while exploring consistency with the approach that has already been adopted by New South Wales. That point is right. The ACT cannot afford to become an island in a sea of better regulation around us when it comes to these matters.

As I have already noted, the ACT does have a very small textile, clothing and footwear manufacturing sector. There are very few outworkers in the ACT. Most outworkers, as Ms Gallagher pointed out, are in larger cities. But while the government has been unable to identify outworkers currently working in the ACT, as I have already indicated, there is every possibility there would be people undertaking home-based work in this area,-for example, performing clothing alterations for retail stores.

It is important to remember that outwork is not limited to the textile, clothing and footwear industry. The increasing use of computers means that more people are teleworking from home in other industries as well.

The government will commit to investigate whether legislation similar to that introduced in New South Wales and Victoria is necessary to protect outworkers employment conditions here in the ACT. We need to further investigate the Assembly's powers to make such legislation, and to make sure that any legislation is not inconsistent with the contents of federal laws, such as the clothing trades award.

New legislation commenced on 1 July this year to ensure that outworkers are protected by ACT workers compensation legislation, significantly expanding the definition of worker.

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