The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (17:34): This bill will repeal the Labour Hire Licensing Act which was introduced by the former government last year. I understand the current government undertook to repeal the act in its entirety if amendments they presented whilst in opposition were not successful. The amendments failed. The opposition then won the election and is now in government and they are standing by their commitment to repeal the act.
I understand that enforcement of the act has not yet commenced. This is partly due to the fact that it took a little while for the bill to be proclaimed and then, as with many changes in law, there was a phase-in period before enforcement was to begin. In the meantime, the new government made it clear that it intended to repeal the act, so I can understand why resources were not focused towards enforcing an act which was likely going to be obsolete.
In my briefing on this bill I was advised that a task force of sorts had been established where the heads of certain agencies got together to identify operators who were doing the wrong thing. One agency in particular would take the lead in each case to investigate, and it was hoped that through information sharing the bad operators would be identified and dealt with under the appropriate existing act.
Whilst this seems somewhat promising, I am a little concerned that this is the proposed alternative to the Labour Hire Licensing Act. I understand that there has been concern that the definitions of the act capture some industries that were not intended to be captured while at the same time excluding some industries that should have been captured in the act. If problems are identified with an act, the usual process would be to amend the existing act or, if the existing act is so bad, replace it entirely with a new bill.
It seems to me that there is appetite in this parliament to amend the act to rectify the issues which have been identified; however, the government has chosen to repeal the entire act and abandon the good elements of the act. This does not seem to be the right way to go forward. I encourage the government to work with the regulator, industries and stakeholders to amend the current act so that we can provide a framework to ensure that labour hire operators are conducting themselves appropriately and not exploiting vulnerable workers.