Page 3119 - Week 08 - Thursday, 16 August 2018

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The secure local jobs reform package will ensure that government contracts are awarded to businesses with exemplary ethical and labour standards; ensure that the creation of local jobs is a key consideration in procurement; introduce measures to promote job security and deliver ethical procurement outcomes; highlight the important role that unions play in ensuring that employees are well represented, paid fairly and get home safely; create an efficient, clear and transparent governance regime for the resolution of disputes related to government procurement, and continually monitor the performance of contracts; and simplify the procurement process and reduce duplication by establishing standard contract terms which include strong representative rights and protections for workers.

We make no apologies for standing up for workers and their families. We believe that these reforms will provide better lives for not only those employed to undertake territory-funded work but also those elsewhere in the ACT, as businesses spread these practices across their operations and other companies begin to strive to meet the high ethical and labour standards that we establish.

The second initiative is the creation of the young workers advice service. It is an unfortunate reality that young workers are often the most vulnerable to exploitation at work, as a consequence of not yet understanding their employment rights or being afraid to speak up. This was highlighted earlier this year when, prompted by complaints from young workers, the Fair Work Ombudsman reported the recovery of $27,000 on behalf of 28 employees in the Canberra region, with breaches mostly related to underpayment of employees.

In August 2017 I requested the ACT Work Safety Council to establish a subcommittee to consider and provide advice to government on how best to ensure that apprentices, trainees and young workers are working in safe environments and are aware of their workplace safety rights and obligations. The subcommittee has identified that there is a lack of awareness of employment rights among apprentices, trainees and young workers in the ACT, and also raised concerns that the ACT does not currently have a single service which provides safety and industrial relations advice to young workers.

In order to empower apprentices, trainees and young workers with knowledge of their employment rights, the government has committed $470,000 over four years for the establishment of a young workers advice service. This initiative is aimed at establishing a trusted source of information in the community and will provide a one-stop shop for all industrial relations and occupational health and safety inquiries. The services will be facilitated by an independent provider to encourage young and vulnerable workers to freely access information on rights and responsibilities in the workplace. The government will soon commence work on the procurement process to establish the young workers advice service.

Madam Deputy Speaker, both of these initiatives aim to address issues that have been identified to ensure that vulnerable workers have adequate protections regarding their workplace rights and obligations while creating secure local jobs for the people of the ACT. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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