Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3802 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

A review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act is now under way, and we expect that the review will recommend that the act cover outworkers in the same way as the new workers compensation legislation does. I am keen to see an expansion of the definition of the term "worker" in the ACT occupational health and safety provisions.

The ACT government's procurement guidelines already provide for the government, as a purchaser of textile, clothing and footwear products, to include a standing clause in all contracts to ensure that workers' wages and conditions are protected in the manufacture of goods and the provision of services for the government.

Following Ms Gallagher's motion today, the government will continue to examine its procurement policies to ensure that they are as up to date as possible and that we use our purchasing power as a consumer to promote products that are generated through ethical means and stop those which are generated through exploitation of outworkers.

This is an important motion, one which deserves serious investigation. The government will be following up Ms Gallagher's call and focusing on what changes can be made to ensure that people engaged in this type of work in the ACT are properly protected.

MS TUCKER (11.52): I move the following amendment:

Paragraph (6), after the word "ensure" omit "jurisdictional consistency", substitute "the best possible protection".

The Greens are happy to support this motion and thank Ms Gallagher for bringing the matter to the Assembly and, importantly, pushing for concrete action by our government.

The concept of fair trade is central to this motion. Commitment to fair trading as a principle subverts so-called economic rationalism, which assumes that all anyone is interested in or should be interested in when making market transactions is the lowest price.

Fair trading recognises that there are more values to be taken into account in our market exchanges. This is global dialogue occurring right now with the World Trade Organisation. In this case, it is the welfare of the people making the clothing, footwear and textiles we buy. Committed, concerned people in the community and unions have worked hard to bring this unfair situation to light, and they have developed means to address it-in particular, the FairWear campaign and the textile, clothing and footwear union. The Australian Retailer Association also should be credited for their commitment to the retailer code.

While much of this type of manufacturing for the Australian market is done overseas, there are an estimated 330,000 outworkers in Australia, according to unions-144,000 of them in Victoria. The Age reported on a survey of outworkers conducted in 2001 by the University of Melbourne. Of the study respondents, three-quarters worked up to 19 hours a day, and a third relied on their children to help them complete work. Some worked for less than 50c an hour. Most of the respondents were female migrants from Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia and did not speak English well. The situation is extremely grave, and the current approach is not adequate.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .