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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3805 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

My amendment addresses the question Mr Pratt addressed. He was concerned that we had to have jurisdictional consistency. My concern is that if we have the blind understanding that it is good if we are all consistent we can lose the capacity to raise the standard. That can hold us down. That has happened in this place with a number of issues. Where we have national schemes of a lesser standard than the majority of members of the Assembly would want in the ACT we are stopped from improving them because of this national approach. My amendment addresses that. The primary concern is to ensure the best protection rather than jurisdictional consistency.

I am informed that the code works in New South Wales by requiring retailers to provide information on their supply chain to the regulator, in this case the code administration committee, which I understand it is proposed include industry and worker representatives. (Extension of time granted.) This information on the supply chain is publicly available, and this allows monitoring and reporting to be taken on by members of the community. Unions and other active interested community groups are likely to be the ones who take up this role.

At the moment, unless a retailer proudly displays information on how committed they are to fair conditions for the people who create their products, there is no way for people concerned about this issue to compare retailers. At this stage, because this is being implemented at state and territory level, it will not, I understand, be able to exercise control over international work. This is unfortunate, but it is an unfortunate fact of our current federal government's beliefs.

MS DUNDAS (12.03): I will be addressing my comments to both the amendment and the substantive motion. The ACT Democrats support Ms Gallagher's motion and Ms Tucker's amendment and thank Ms Gallagher for bringing the plight of outworkers to the attention of the Assembly.

The FairWear campaign to eliminate the exploitation of home-based outworkers has been a very successful campaign over the past eight years. The group has been instrumental in raising the exploitation of outworkers.

In 1996 the Senate Economics Reference Committee reported on outworkers in the garment industry. Typical outworkers were defined as mainly migrant women of non-English-speaking background who sew garments in their own home or someone else's home for the clothing industry.

The report also noted that there appears to be no shortage of recent migrants available to do outwork. This is primarily because that sector of the population has a very high rate of unemployment, particularly among women, and there is a chronic shortage of semi-skilled jobs in the manufacturing sector in Australia.

Women who work as outworkers have primary responsibility for their children and for housework. The fact that they cannot afford to pay for child care leaves many outworkers no choice but to work at home. If child care was not so expensive, however, many outworkers state they would consider working away from home.

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