Page 1598 - Week 05 - Thursday, 5 May 2016
The Greens sometimes meet with unions and I often consult with them, especially on legislation that might relate to industrial relations or workplace health and safety. They are an important stakeholder. Should we hold an inquiry into that as well? Of course we should not. The view of unions is important and useful. They frequently provide useful information and context. This consultation helps us make better decisions.
I note Mr Wall’s motion says the MOU does not contribute to procurement outcomes, and I believe that is wrong. In fact, when I met with officials about this they said that unions can provide information that is of assistance in making good procurement decisions. As I have said, through their work, unions are intimately involved with companies, their projects, their records and their interactions with the law, such as through Fair Work Australia. Giving unions a ready avenue to provide this information to procurement officials is useful. The officials then use it in their decision-making, if it is relevant. The information is, of course, viewed carefully and critically as the officials view any information that they receive. This is all useful information when it comes to making decisions that properly take into account worker health and safety. That is an outcome that all of us should want. We should all want the safest workplaces and for our workers’ rights to be protected and respected.
To conclude, as I said last time we discussed this topic, despite the obvious attempts at politics, and the innuendo and accusations, this is just an MOU that emphasises the importance of worker rights, health and safety and the role that unions play. It essentially offers an easy avenue for unions to provide information on these matters which procurement officials use as appropriate subject to their existing obligations.
There is no need to hold an Assembly inquiry; it will clearly be another Liberal Party theatre piece. The Liberals have never bothered to look at this document properly and objectively and have never made inquiries to the procurement arm of government that actually administers the contracts. Instead, they are being wilfully blind, making inappropriate assertions and innuendo and trying to twist the truth for base political purposes. I cannot support that.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.58): I thank Mr Wall for bringing this matter before the Assembly today. It is very important with any government that they can be trusted to behave fairly and that business in this town can believe they are playing on a level field. Sadly, the community and business in this town do not believe that. Industry representatives have spoken out publicly to say that something is badly wrong, that the arrangement between the ACT government and UnionsACT does not create a level playing field. What it does is provide the CFMEU particularly with a tool to basically allow the CFMEU to bully, to coerce and to intimidate in the workplace.
We have seen evidence of this through the trade union royal commission. What this Labor government is doing, supported by the Greens minister, is giving the CFMEU greater power to intimidate, coerce and behave illegally in the workplace. It is absolutely outrageous. As a result of the power this government is handing over to the unions, the CMFEU in particular are able to reap literally millions of dollars out of industry through inflated contracts, demanding that business sign up to EBAs and other intimidatory behaviour.