Page 1007 - Week 04 - Thursday, 7 May 2020

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this. The fundamental of workplace relations is that the commonwealth has jurisdiction over this area, and rightly so. It ensures consistency across the country and across jurisdictions, creating efficiencies for businesses that encourage more jobs in our economy. The new section of this bill outlines the exact same provisions that are covered in the Fair Work Act. All Ms Cody is seeking to do is to duplicate existing legislation. Not only does the Fair Work Act cover workplace relations in a way that boosts productivity; it is fair to employers and workers alike.

Australia’s international labour obligations are well covered in the act, as are protections against discrimination of any kind in any workplace. The act also protects freedoms of association in a robust way—that is, both the choice to associate and the choice to not associate with a labour organisation.

ACT legislation of recent times has seen significant changes to the Work Health and Safety Act. Many of the changes that have been made in this term of the Assembly have been introduced to have exactly the same intent as the bill before us.

On many occasions in this place I have stated my view on trade unions and the undue influence that they have on the Barr government and its decision-making—a heavier influence in this Assembly than in Assemblies before it. One needs only to look at the debacle that has been the reopening of public schools to realise just how many strings the union movement pulls when it comes to ministers opposite.

What I object to most about this influence is the impact the ideological pursuits of those opposite have on the ability of a business to get on with the job and the impact these laws have on their ability to employ. I also reject the view that a stronger, more regulated union presence on a worksite will make a workplace safer. We know that every time safety is used as an IR weapon, safety suffers most.

Adding more hoops to jump through for business is simply not helpful. It does nothing but add to the ever-increasing burden on businesses, especially in our current economic crisis. Our businesses are doing it very tough; now is not the time to be introducing more legislation in this space.

Legislatively speaking, this is the latest in a long line of bills that have sought to enshrine union affiliation in ACT law. What about legislating for the ability for workers not to be associated with a trade union? It seems that Ms Cody is more interested in the freedom to associate than in the choice to not associate.

The Canberra Liberals believe firmly that choosing to be or not to be a member of a union should never be an impediment to getting a job, having a job or keeping a job. I maintain my view that this is unnecessary legislation, pushed forward in line with a political agenda in a last-minute attempt to shore up union support just before an ACT election. Once again, the opposition sees significant issues with this bill. Those opposite have failed to convince us of its merit or its necessity at this time. The opposition has significant concerns about its introduction.

MS ORR (Yerrabi—Minister for Community Services and Facilities, Minister for Disability, Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety and Minister for

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