Page 1138 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 6 April 2016

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Recommendation 28:

The ACT Government should conduct a stocktake of the construction industry’s work health and safety performance as at 30 June 2016 to identify what has been achieved, what is yet to be achieved, and what new targets or strategies should be put in place

This report was brought down in November 2012. The government responded with a series of initiatives in order to ensure that workplace health and safety were at the forefront of our procurement processes. The suggestions and the observations by the Leader of the Opposition are that these commitments should be walked away from. This is what he is suggesting. It is nothing short of an outrage. It certainly reflects his values and the lack of importance that he places on workplace health and safety, on collaborative and cooperative arrangements around ACT government projects.

Let me repeat a very simple proposition: I do not want anyone, any worker, dying on an ACT government worksite. We have put in place, through the changes that we have made to our procurement, a process that minimises that risk as much as we possibly can. That is something important. That is something worth standing up for. The distressing thing from today’s debate is that there is no inch of political capital or political gain that the opposition leader will not seek to achieve in order to put all of that at risk. He may think that the politics of saying “CFMEU” loudly a few times works in his favour.

But at the heart of this is ensuring that the ACT government does business with companies that will not put their employees’ health and safety at risk. The ACT government will not do business with companies that rip off their employees, do not pay subcontractors and do dodgy things. We do not want to do business with those companies.

The good news in the ACT is that the overwhelming majority—nearly all—of the companies we do business with do not want any part of that either, and that is a good thing. We have seen significant cultural improvement, particularly in the construction sector, around work health and safety since this report and since the government’s response. That the Leader of the Opposition wants to go down a path of winding this back speaks very strongly to his values and his complete disregard for the safety of workers, for workers’ conditions and for workers’ rights.

MR WALL (Brindabella) (10.31): I firstly commend Mr Hanson for bringing this comprehensive motion into the Assembly on what is a very concerning issue for so many in our community. I have spoken on a number of occasions over the past year and a bit about questions of union corruption and the influence the union movement has over this ACT government. However, the revelations that a formal agreement between UnionsACT, their affiliates and the ACT government exists substantially increases the concerns many have when it comes to who is running this city, who is in charge of government and who ultimately makes the decisions.

Senator Michaelia Cash, the federal employment minister, hit the nail on the head when she stated in question time on the day that this story broke in the Australian:

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