Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 May 2016) . . Page.. 1391 ..
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.42): The Greens are pleased to support this bill today, which will extend portable long service leave benefits to two additional workforce sectors in the ACT: the aged-care sector and the waste sector.
Portable long service leave is an excellent scheme. I am quite proud that here in the ACT we are the jurisdiction that is leading the way. I have spoken in support of it before, as have my Greens colleagues in previous Assemblies. We have four portable long service leave schemes already operating. They operate in the building and construction industry, the contract cleaning industry, the community sector and the security industry. They all appear to be operating very well. Workers are accruing their deserved leave, and the industries themselves continue to operate effectively. The updates I have received from the ACT’s Long Service Leave Authority confirm that they are also operating well in an administrative sense.
Portable long service leave is of course intended to protect the entitlement of workers who work in industries characterised by high levels of mobility and brief employment. Someone working in Canberra’s waste sectors, for example, might spend 20 years doing the same job but might have moved between different employers. A garbage truck driver might find that the company they work for changes but essentially they are doing the same job day to day.
When I was TAMS minister, for example, the government changed the contractor it used to operate the garbage collection service. The company changed, yet most of the actual employees remained the same and continued doing the same job. Through no action of their own, they were working for a different employer. This is exactly the sort of situation that this bill seeks to address.
Usually these changes would prevent that employee from being able to receive long service leave entitlements. Traditionally, long service leave only accrues to a person who is with the same employer. Portable long service leave recognises the reality in some industries that a person continues to do a similar job despite moving between employers, and it ensures they can still get long service leave after they have worked for a long time.
Long service leave, and perhaps portable long service leave in particular, is one of those issues that draw out some deep-rooted political differences in the Assembly. The Liberal Party, as we have heard today, do not support portable long service leave. That has been stated clearly on the record a number of times in this place now. They have voted against establishing the schemes. The Liberal Party’s view is that these schemes are a pain to industry and a burden on employment. Also on the record is their view that the very notion of long service leave, portable or not, is antiquated.
The Greens do not share these views. Far from going along for the ride, as Mr Smyth suggested in the debate today, we actively believe that this is an important issue and one that the parliament should take action on. I think the truly antiquated view is the one that fails to recognise that workers need rest and balance in their lives, and long service leave helps provide that. It contributes to their health and wellbeing and it helps build a better and fairer society. And for those people who are perhaps more focused on products, profits and productivity, it is also the case that treating workers well and giving them proper breaks actually tends to improve productivity.