Page 798 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2006

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Well, the CFMEU were there for Joel Exner’s family, they were there for Dean McGoldrick’s family and they were there for Samuel Kautai. It is organised labour that has supported the families of the building and construction industry, and it will continue to do so despite this act. We have heard from my Assembly colleague Ms MacDonald this afternoon that support for workers from their union colleagues is not limited to the building and construction industry. Organised labour in the transport industry supported Tim Bollard in his dispute with Boral.

Union members working as clerks in banks and in childcare and union members working in hotels and clubs are united—not against their employers, but with each other to ensure a safe and fair workplace. And it is about ensuring safe workplaces that is at the heart of this motion. We here in the ACT recognise that workers in the building and construction industry are exposed to higher levels of risk than most other workers. We recognise the need for a specialised response to the needs of those workers, but our response is not to gag workers; it is not to fine workers for expressing their internationally recognised right to strike.

Whilst the Howard government’s task force, the secret police in the building and construction industry, was ignoring the ongoing concerns of the safety of young workers on building sites, ACT WorkCover launched a campaign into safe demolition work and asbestos removal. ACT WorkCover commenced inspections in the safety focus campaign, targeting electrical safety at work. Equipment was seized or destroyed and $5,000 infringement notices have been issued. These are all measures to make ACT workplaces safe.

The ACT government has in place another means of pursuing safe workplaces here in Canberra in the form of industrial manslaughter legislation. The opposition say this has driven businesses over the border. I say it has protected the workers we are here to represent. For the benefit of the opposition, the point of industrial manslaughter legislation is that you hope a prosecution never surfaces. But, if you as an employer place your worker at risk, you should be punished. It is unfortunate that the Howard government has seen fit to punish workers instead, not unscrupulous employers. The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act does not protect workers. It is neglectful at best. Its potential to place young workers in danger is of far greater concern, and for this reason I urge you to support this motion.

Motion agreed to.

Lowering the eligible voting age

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.02): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) supports the establishment of a scheme which allows 16 and 17 year old ACT residents to vote in elections and referendums for the ACT Legislative Assembly; and

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