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Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Page: 13477


Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (17:42): I present the explanatory memorandum and I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill is to make key reforms to give effect to proposals, developed by an industry working party, to reform the portable long service leave arrangements in the black coal mining industry. This group comprised representatives from the New South Wales Minerals Council Ltd, the Queensland Resources Council, the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division, the Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia, the New South Wales Colliery Officials Association and the Mine Managers Association of Australia.

I commend the participants on their collaborative approach and their commitment to the future success of the unique black coal mining industry long service leave scheme.

Employees in the black coal mining industry have accessed portable long service leave entitlements under the terms of federal awards since 1949 which in turn were funded by an excise on coal production. Since 1993 the funding of entitlements has been through an employer levy scheme and administered by the Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Corporation. Employers are reimbursed when they have made a payment to an eligible employee in respect of their entitlement.

A priority concern of the industry working party was to ensure that the long service leave entitlement applied universally in the black coal mining industry. Amendments were made in 2009 to address this concern—extending the preserved award based long service leave entitlements to all the eligible employees who did not otherwise have an award derived long service leave entitlement from 1 January 2010.

While the 2009 amendments addressed the priority concerns of the working party this bill seeks to further these reforms by providing for the remaining proposals of the working party.

This bill legislates the minimum long service leave entitlement for all eligible employees in the black coal mining industry based on the precursor award entitlement.

Provision is made for all eligible employees, whether full time, part time or casual, to accrue long service leave in the black coal mining industry. An eligible employee will be entitled to long service leave when they have completed a period, or periods, of qualifying service totalling eight years or more. A key imperative of the working party proposals was to improve the operation of the scheme so that the amounts that employers are reimbursed from the Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave Fund in respect of long service leave payments more closely correspond to the amounts that they have paid into the fund by way of levy. The bill therefore changes the basis on which the levy is imposed and facilitates changes to the employer reimbursement arrangements.

This bill provides for a greater compliance role for the corporation. The corporation will have the power to require persons to produce information or documents and standing to pursue alleged contraventions of a civil penalty provision on behalf of the Commonwealth. Additional penalty provisions have been included and existing penalty levels have been increased in line with contemporary standards.

This bill also makes changes to the structure and representation of the board of directors of the corporation to better reflect the current industry representative status of certain employee-representative and employer-representative groups, and to increase the terms of directors from two to four years.

The bill also establishes a regime for transition from the award-derived long service leave scheme to the new statutory long service leave scheme established by this bill.

The government is very pleased to facilitate these amendments proposed by the industry working party, and I am very proud to have had the unexpected opportunity to move the second reading of this bill in the House of Representatives. There is no doubt that this bill will provide significant benefit to both employers and employees in the black coal mining industry—employers, who contribute such a great deal of wealth to this nation; and employees, who work so hard to deliver that wealth for their families but also in the national interest.

I commend this bill to the House and I congratulate the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division, other unions and indeed employer groups who have been here this week to indicate the broad cross-sector support that there is for this important legislation.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): I thank the minister for assisting the smooth operation of the Main Committee this afternoon.

Leave granted for second reading debate to continue immediately.