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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3807 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Retailers that have already signed on include Target, Grace Bros, David Jones, K-Mart, Big W, Suzanne Grae and Cue Designs. When this historic code was announced, Mr Della Bosca stated that as there were Labor governments in every state and territory he would proudly join with the union and take the agreement to other states, paving the way to achieve a truly national solution.

A code, however, is not a guarantee that every garment has been made without exploitation, but does indicate the retailers' cooperation with the union in providing the commercial records necessary for the union to effectively police compliance with the clothing award within their contracting chains.

I have a few concerns in regard to this motion, as there are no estimates of the cost involved for the ACT government. Hopefully, this is a cost that we are willing to bear. If we are to piggyback on the scheme already established in New South Wales, the cost should be minimal. There is also no reporting date or a date by which we can expect completion.

With majority support, which I know this motion will get, we will monitor the government to ensure compliance as swiftly as possible. The Assembly, Ms Gallagher and the union will remain aware and keep an eye on the government to ensure that the changes called for today are enacted.

We also need to remember what we as individuals can do by choosing carefully where we shop and what we buy. Great steps in the FairWear campaign have happened through individual action. In the United States whole college sporting teams have refused to take uniforms from Nike, making the great and important political statement that they choose not to wear clothes produced in sweatshops and by outworkers not receiving the right pay or conditions.

We should applaud this motion and look forward to government action, but hope that this debate today reminds us of the power of our own individual actions and choosing wisely what clothes we wear and what companies we support.

The ACT Democrats thank Ms Gallagher for bringing the exploitation of outworkers to the attention of the Assembly today. FairWear and the TCF union can be congratulated for the role they have played in maintaining pressure on retailers and the government to bring about this significant victory for outworkers. We look forward to the implementation of a retailer code and deed undertakings bringing about real change for outworkers.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (12.11): Mr Speaker, I wish to give the Assembly some information on actions that have been taken and will be taken by the government in relation to this matter.

The government condemns the exploitation of outworkers in Australia. As has been mentioned during the debate, outworkers are commonly from migrant backgrounds. They are rarely unionised and are some of the lowest paid workers in the country. This government and all governments need to take action to protect this disadvantaged group of workers.

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