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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 1069


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (19:34): I pass on my condolences to Senator Nash and her team. In relation to the issue of apprentices, again, I confirm, as I believe I did in the debate last year, the code does not prevent or restrict the employment of apprentices or trainees. The code simply prevents union imposed pattern agreements from imposing a rigid ratio of apprentices or trainees for every building contractor, regardless of their size or ability to accommodate them. You will be aware—and I am sure my department has the advice for me in relation to what was actually moved by the crossbench last year and agreed to by the Senate—that a number of changes were made in relation to the code and the employing of apprentices, and the note to clause 11(3)(a) states—and this was included at the request of the crossbench and I believe, Senator Hinch, that this was one of your amendments:

… this does not prevent the inclusion of clauses in an enterprise agreement that encourage the employment of apprentices …

So that is allowed. Further, as a result of other amendments proposed by the crossbench in the original debate, the code at clause 24(2)(d) requires companies when tendering:

… to demonstrate a positive commitment to the provision of appropriate training and skill development for their workforce. Such commitment may be evidenced by compliance with any state or territory government building training policies and supporting the delivery of nationally endorsed building and construction competencies …

And 24(2)(e) requires companies when tendering to:

… include details of the number of current apprentice and trainee employees and the number and classes of persons that hold visas under the Migration Act 1958 that are engaged by the respondent, and that are intended to be engaged by the respondent to undertake the Commonwealth funded building work …