Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 August 2017) . . Page.. 2397 ..
closely with a range of employer and employee representative groups to undertake awareness activities on work health and safety and workplace rights and responsibilities.
These representative groups do important work to raise awareness of work health and safety issues and resources in territory workplaces; facilitate access to work health and safety training for employers and employees; provide other work health and safety services, advice and support to employers and employees; and undertake research into work health and safety and related matters. As the Deputy Chief Minister has said, the information that is the subject of this motion today is about workplace rights and responsibilities. It is broader than just safety in the workplace, although of course safety is a very important element of a worker’s rights.
There are a range of workplace rights and responsibilities that are not overseen by WorkSafe ACT. The role of the Fair Work Ombudsman is also extremely important in recognising and upholding the rights at work of young people. Unions are in a strong position to provide a range of advice to young people on the widest range of their rights and responsibilities at work. This complements the activity of WorkSafe ACT, which is active in workplaces that employ young people, recognising that young people are particularly vulnerable in the workplace.
Just one example of this work is the recent activities that have occurred across a number of our shopping malls, where young people are employed in retail activities. WorkSafe ACT has proactively gone into those workplaces to ensure that workers and their employers are fully cognisant of their responsibilities in relation to workplace safety, which, of course, includes bullying and harassment.
These issues are taken incredibly seriously by the ACT government. I again want to emphasise that we acknowledge and appreciate the invaluable role that unions play across all of these issues. It absolutely makes sense that we would engage their expertise to make sure that students in our schools have appropriate access to information and advice as they prepare to or start to enter the workplace. I commend the amendment.
MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (4.55): I rise today to speak in favour of the amendment to the motion and against the text of Mr Wall’s original motion. I find myself having to rise today because it appears that Mr Wall has seen the word “union” and needs to speak his mind, as we have seen before. Mr Wall’s motion reveals something that we see too often from the Canberra Liberals: their ideological hatred of unions. But it also reveals something else. It reveals Mr Wall’s threadbare understanding of how industrial relations operates in this country and demonstrates his inadequacy as a shadow minister.
The first and most obvious failing in Mr Wall’s understanding seems to be that he does not understand the role of WorkSafe ACT. The original text of his motion implies that the briefings provided by UnionsACT, which inform young people about their workplace rights as they head off to work experience or maybe even their first job, could simply be substituted with briefings by WorkSafe ACT.