Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4222 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
consistent with the commitment given by the Labor government prior to its election in November last year. The government will work with both employers and unions on this matter. The government will also identify particular problems caused by current long service leave arrangements in particular industries and address them through amendments to the Long Service Leave Act or other legislative change.
Since the introduction of portable long service leave in the ACT building and construction industry, the board has steadily built up a substantial portfolio which now has total assets of over $42 million and net assets of over $22 million. Since the scheme was created in 1981, contributions required by employers have fallen from 2 per cent of wages to 1 per cent. That shows that over time these arrangements effectively become self-funding, and any argument from those opposite that this is an impost on business is both short-sighted and short term in its approach. Currently, there are over 7,000 ACT building and construction workers registered with the board. The scheme protects the entitlements of construction workers by ensuring that they can still receive their entitlements if their employer goes out of business.
Finally, Ms MacDonald has called on the Assembly to reject the proposal by the Cole royal commission to remove portable long service leave schemes from the construction industry. I can confirm, for the information of members, that this government is committed to ensuring that this proposal from the royal commission is not implemented and is already preparing a submission to the commission outlining the government's opposition to such a retrograde step.
MR PRATT (11.45): I rise to speak against this motion. As a preliminary comment, I would like to thank Ms MacDonald for assuming to know what I think and what my colleagues think about these sorts of issues. She has been incredibly far-reaching in delving into the minds of members of the opposition. Sadly, that is a reflection of the labelling game which seems to be a strong feature of the defensive political behaviour of the Labor Party; it is just silly. But what is sillier is this motion. Indeed, this motion is pathetic. It is unfair, it is unnecessary, it proposes unnecessary legislation and it is going to be an unjustified imposition on business and progress in the ACT.
What is long service leave? Long service leave is essentially that leave which is provided for loyal workers who remain with one employer for a significant period, thereby contributing to the stability and consistency of that employer's business operation. The employer rewards that loyalty by paying long service leave. Clearly, on changing employers, the first five years of accrued long service leave are automatically lost. That is the system generally right across the country, give or take a couple of years here or there.
There are exemptions in the ACT. In the ACT, as is the case right across the country, exemptions are made for the construction industry, and that should be the case as the construction industry is not a career industry. In addition, the cleaning industry in the ACT is allowed full portability. That is something that does not occur in other jurisdictions. By their non-career nature, both of these industries should have portability allowances. That is currently the case and we do not argue against it.