Page 3258 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 17 September 2013

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Mr Smyth: Point of order, Madam Speaker. On the same basis on which you ruled the second part of Mr Wall’s question out of order, she is asking about or anticipating something that might happen. I would ask for consideration of whether or not it is hypothetical.

MADAM SPEAKER: Can you repeat your question, please, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Yes. Minister, what would be the consequences of the ACT government not pursuing this policy?

MADAM SPEAKER: No, I do not have a problem with that question. Mr Corbell.

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Madam Speaker and I thank Ms Porter for the question. Clearly, if the fund is not able to meet its entitlements, that means that there is a direct call on ACT taxpayers to honour the commitments of the fund. So that level of risk to taxpayers is something that I would have thought those opposite would be interested in avoiding. But perhaps not. Perhaps they think that taxpayers should be paying these costs rather than employers.

From my perspective and from the government’s perspective, this has been a difficult decision. It is a difficult decision because we understand that at a time of a lower level of activity in the construction sector, budgets are tight amongst construction companies. It is worth highlighting, though, that the costs for the majority of businesses in the fund—about 1,600 employers pay the levy into the long service leave fund and 900 of those employ fewer than 20 people—the cost per employee is less than $50 a week.

Most of them employ less than four people. So what we need to understand is that the cost impost is relatively modest. It can be recovered through a very minor increase in their overall billing that they bill through jobs. We think for those reasons that we have taken a reasonable and considered approach.

But the consequence, as asked of me by Ms Porter, of not acting is that the fund is not able to pay workers long service leave entitlements. That is a completely untenable situation that we must act to avoid and do so in a prudent way consistent with the advice of the board and its actuarial advice.

Uriarra Village—proposed solar farm

MR WALL: My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development. Minister, on 19 August you announced via a media release:

I am pleased to announce two new solar farms will be developed in Canberra as a result of the Solar Auction process …

Were you or your directorate aware of the proposed locations of these projects prior to the solar auction process?

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