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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1590

Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (10:28): I am speaking against the amendments. Whilst I understand the passion in the remarks of the member for Kennedy, the government does not support them. In particular, we do not support the remarks about appeasing corporate donors—although I did find some sympathy for the member's analysis of the coalition. The government's bill reflects the recommendations of the Wilcox—

Mr Briggs: You shouldn't be talking about donations.

Mr SHORTEN: If the hat fits, member for Mayo. In our bill we are reflecting our election commitments. I also acknowledge the concerns raised during the debate by many members about coercive powers. In accordance with the Wilcox recommendations, the bill retains coercive powers but with important and significant safeguards. These include the requirement that a presidential member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal be satisfied a case has been made for the use of coercive powers on each occasion they are to be used; the right for individuals to be represented by a lawyer of their choice; recognition of the right to refuse to disclose information on the grounds of either legal professional privilege or public interest immunity; reimbursement of reasonable expenses, including reasonable legal expenses, for people summonsed for examination; the requirement that all examinations be undertaken by the director or an SES officer; the requirement that all examinations be videotaped; and the requirement that the Commonwealth Ombudsman, informed by the videotapes, monitor and review all examinations and provide reports to the parliament on the exercise of this power.

In addition to these and other safeguards, this bill reflects the government's priority in focusing compliance activities where those activities are most needed. Consequently, the coercive powers are subject to a three-year sunset clause in the bill. Prior to the sunset, a review of all matters relating to compliance in the building and construction industry will occur. Any such review would of course be inclusive of all stakeholders.