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Monday, 26 May 2003
Page: 15017


Mr Murphy asked the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, upon notice, on 27 March 2003.

(1) Has he read Discussion Paper 11 of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry titled “Working Arrangements - Their Effects on Workers' Entitlements and Public Revenue”; if not, why not.

(2) Will he reform Australia's Workplace Relations laws to protect workers' legitimate entitlements from the criminal behaviour of the directors of `phoenix companies'; if so, when; if not, why not.


Mr Abbott (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I have been briefed on the contents of Discussion Paper 11 from the Royal Commission `Working Arrangements - Their Effects on Workers' Entitlements and Public Revenue' and I have considered the issues raised in the paper carefully.

(2) The Government is considering its detailed response to the Final Report of the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry. The Government considers that the Final Report represents the most comprehensive national report into the industry ever produced in Australia and is treating its recommendations, including those regarding the issue of workers' entitlements and `phoenix companies' with the utmost seriousness. Given the Final Report's importance the Government has decided to support the key recommendations of the Royal Commission and I announced on 2 April 2003 that the Government has agreed immediately to:

(a) create a separate act governing workplace relations in the construction industry;

(b) establish a new law enforcement agency for the industry;

(c) establish a Safety Commissioner to monitor federally-funded construction sites; and

(d) insist on application of the National Construction Code and implementation guidelines to all significant new projects which are fully or partly federally funded.