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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 October 2018) . . Page.. 4053 ..

government and the public—agrees we need to be setting higher standards in our procurement system. The community is calling on us, the ACT government, to take a more ethical approach in the way we procure goods and services.

Ethics are critical in procurement and will only become more important as technology and consumer sentiment change. The shifts in our economic systems in recent decades mean there is a growing importance for governments to lead by example when making purchases. Where value and cost management were once the primary focus in procurement, the community is coming to expect more from governments in who they contract to provide goods and services.

In general, as a society we are becoming increasingly engaged in the impacts of our own purchasing decisions. Buying our groceries, we are more mindful of the impacts of single-use plastics, food wastage and pesticides, with many people willing to pay more per unit to avoid these. When we buy clothes, there is an increasing willingness to ensure that what we purchase delivers better conditions for garment workers and uses more sustainable inputs and production techniques. This customer-led activism has put pressure on businesses and corporations to focus on their social responsibilities when procuring suppliers, and companies are coming to find that ensuring that goods and services are being procured ethically is simply the right thing to do.

The bill at the centre of this inquiry is a further application of acting on what is simply the right thing to do. It is evident from the responses received in the inquiry that we agree that the intent of the bill is the right thing for us to pursue. It is evident in the submission from CTR Pacific commercial bricklaying, who said:

We believe there is a serious problem in the Territory construction industry when it comes to compliance with workplace laws …. we believe that the reforms suggested in the Regulations would be a huge help to local businesses doing the right thing.

This quote is important because it captures the distinction between principle and mechanism. The legislation itself represents the principle we are all in support of. The legislation itself does not include the mechanism that is defined by the regulation which this legislation will underpin, and the government continues to consult far and wide on this to try to find an approach that is as agreeable as we can manage, given that we all come from different backgrounds and we all have different beliefs and values.

We need to stay focused on this debate and the focus of this inquiry: that the legislation before us represents an intention to enforce ethical procurement standards in the ACT, an objective with widespread support. The bill intends to ensure that it is a viable option for businesses to do the right thing. It will enable us to remove the benefits associated with undercutting staff and failing to provide adequate safety measures and work conditions. We all agree that this is something we should be doing, and that was evident in the responses to the inquiry. For that reason, I call on everyone in this Assembly to vote in favour of the bill when we get to the next stage.

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