Page 217 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 16 February 2011

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We believe that the workplace is a place which needs to foster trust between employers and employees. We recognise the need for employers to protect their workplaces and monitor their employees through surveillance. However, this should not be concealed in the everyday running of the business.

The bill provides a requirement for genuine consultation with employees prior to the commencement of surveillance in a workplace. This bill will not have a substantial impact on workplaces as the requirements for compliance with the notified surveillance provisions are small, and it will provide clarity to both employers and workers as to how surveillance will operate.

This bill in no way restricts an employer from legitimate covert notified surveillance. The only situation where it will compel changes to the workplace is where employers are currently engaging in what would be considered covert surveillance such as businesses that currently use concealed cameras to monitor the workplace or businesses that monitor places like change rooms or prayer rooms.

This bill provides for a six-month delay before the notified and covert surveillance provisions come into place to ensure that employers have sufficient time to comply with the provisions under the bill, whether it be conducting notification and consultation or removing covert surveillance from the workplace. The provisions regarding prohibited surveillance come into place immediately.

I would like to thank the groups that I and my office have talked with about this issue for the last 10 months since the introduction of the exposure draft of this legislation. Unions, privacy groups, business groups and civil liberties groups have all contributed to this bill and without their contribution and feedback this bill would not have been possible.

This bill presents an expansion of privacy rights for workers in the ACT. It reflects the ACT Greens’ commitment to a positive, progressive workplace relations policy which recognises that the rights inherent to human dignity, such as privacy, should be facilitated everywhere, including in the workplace. I thank other members for their contributions and I thank the government for supporting this bill.

I will note that I and my office did meet with Mrs Dunne’s office and we believe we have addressed the main concerns they raised. One of the government’s amendments, as I have noted previously, address one of the concerns they raised also. I will also note that I met with the Business Council, and they were supportive of the bill. We did endeavour to meet with the chamber of commerce but we were not able to secure a meeting with them. We have actually had no concerns raised with us by the business community in relation to this bill.

I note that Mrs Dunne has contacted my office in response to discrete concerns. We believe we have addressed them. I will actually table a revised explanatory statement in response to the concerns which have been raised. I will circulate that shortly.

I will also note again that this bill is based on the New South Wales act. It has been operating successfully. We have put in place a number of amendments which have

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