Page 4484 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 30 October 2018

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importantly, the policy promotes the distribution of information about services and activities in accessible formats for all Canberrans who communicate in a language other than English.

In short, the policy establishes our government’s commitment to meeting the communication needs of all members of our community, including those of culturally and linguistically diverse people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and people who have limited speech or use sign language.

While this policy focuses on language services, I look forward to hearing about how we can support languages more broadly in the community at the upcoming multicultural summit, to be held on 22 November, and specific actions supporting languages that we can take forward under the multicultural strategy as an outcome of the summit. By removing language barriers, all Canberrans can fully participate socially and economically and be proud to tell all those who listen that Canberra is their home.

Freedom of speech in the workplace

Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM SPEAKER: I have received letters from Miss C Burch, Ms Cheyne, Ms Cody, Mrs Dunne, Mr Hanson, Mrs Kikkert, Ms Lawder, Ms Lee, Mr Milligan, Ms Orr, Mr Parton and Mr Wall proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Ms Cheyne be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of freedom of speech in Canberra’s workplaces.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (3.27): I am pleased to rise to speak on this important topic today. Canberra has an economy that, as we all know, is one of the fastest growing in Australia. It has over 27,000 businesses which provide services for a population of over 400,000 people. The landscape for workplaces in the ACT is changing. As we know, Canberra is much more than a city of public servants. Our workforce is distributed across health care and social assistance sectors, education and training, scientific and technical services, retail, construction, accommodation and food services, manufacturing, and many other important industries. Strong economic growth and a rise in the territory’s population will persist, and this persistence will continue to drive this change.

This changing landscape lends itself to consideration of why freedom of speech in these workplaces is so important. Despite freedom of expression being one of the cornerstones of a free and democratic society, it remains a fact that in Australia, including in the ACT, there is no legislated right to free speech or expression on which workers can rely to freely and openly discuss work or their employer. Where the health and safety of workers is concerned, this is particularly problematic.

Indeed, in the 2015 case of Anderson v Thiess, the full bench of the Fair Work Commission said:

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