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Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Page: 1805

Senator ABETZ (10:19 PM) —I have sort of been provoked to get up again to deal with some things. In relation to safety inductions, which the minister mentioned, other people visit work sites and are taken through safety inductions not covered by this legislation. If you are that concerned about safety inductions, I am sure that that can occur.

In relation to Senator Siewert’s stressing of the ILO resolution dealing with the word ‘genuine’, that is why this legislation replicates the previous legislation in relation to sham contracting. So there is a protection against sham contracting and, if it is accepted that it is not a sham contract, these people should be seen as genuine independent contractors. The fact that the ILO refused to make a resolution in relation to independent contracts in fact makes my case perfectly, because the International Labour Organisation says it only deals with the employee-employer relationship; it is not its business to deal with independent contractors. It makes my point perfectly. That is why genuine independent contractors should not be covered in this legislation. It is the same rationale but of course it does not suit Senator Siewert’s political agenda and philosophy. When she cannot get logic, she picks up what the minister does—takes a trip to the graveyard and kicks the corpse of old Work Choices, thinking that somehow that obviates the need for logic in her arguments.

At the end of the day, if I have to make a choice between the Greens and Labor or anybody else, including the coalition parties, as to who has the best interests of independent contractors at heart, do you know what? Chances are it is the Independent Contractors of Australia. These amendments are basically moved on their behalf. We support independent contractors, the aspirational classes that within this country are part of the small business community that generates jobs. That is what we are trying to encourage by removing and stopping the blurring.

I say again to Senator Xenophon: surely you do not need any more proof about the government’s intention to make independent contractors into employees than the fact that they now say that the Independent Contractors Act is going to be considered workplace law in this country. As a result, the Transport Workers Union in particular will have coverage of them.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Crossin)—The question is that opposition amendments (6) to (12) on sheet 5739 revised be agreed to.

Question negatived.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —The question is that opposition amendment (13) on sheet 5739 revised be agreed to.

Question put.