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Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Page: 13479


Ms LEY (Farrer) (17:47): The coalition agrees with the government around the intent of the Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave) Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 and has no arguments with it. I do not propose, therefore, to repeat the information provided by the minister, but I will simply make a brief summary for the purposes of our side of the House.

Following award modernisation in the black coal mining industry, long service leave entitlements were deducted from employees' wages as part of their award provisions. Entitlement to long service leave had been tied to time worked in the industry, as opposed to time worked with a single employer, since 1949, with recognition given to the fact that individual employers should not be required to fund the full long service leave entitlement when the employee may in fact have been working for a number of employers over the years.

It is interesting—if I might just refer to the Bills Digest—to reflect on the history of the legislation. During his second reading speech on the State Grants Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave Bill 1949, on 24 October 1949, the then Minister for Defence and Minister for Post-War Construction, John Dedman MP, stated:

… it would be impracticable for the cost of the leave to be made the full financial responsibility of the individual employers … During their working lives, many employees have changed from one employer to another, and it would be inequitable to place the cost of all such employment solely upon present day employers. Some collieries are not financially capable of meeting the additional cost involved by the leave. Many employees have been employed in the past by colliery companies that are no longer in existence. Moreover, employers would be reluctant to employ men with previous employment in the industry because of the additional liability for long service leave that their employment would involve. This would tend to make labour less mobile than is desirable within the industry, and could result in a loss of skilled labour …

Broadly, the scheme now placed before the House in this interdependent set of three measures is that an excise of 6d. a ton will be placed upon coal produced by those employees in the coal-mining industry who will receive the benefit of long service leave. The proceeds of this excise will be placed in the Commonwealth trust fund and from this fund the Treasurer of the Commonwealth will be empowered to make grants to the States.

That pretty well sums up the background to why we are here today and the history of this slightly peculiar piece of legislation, given that it does not apply to all other industries. In order to promote workforce mobility and a more equitable system, a determined excise was placed in a Commonwealth trust to fund the liability when it came due for each coalminer.

This bill seeks to reinstate the pre-award entitlement to leave, also extending the entitlement to long service leave to casual and part-time workers. Since its introduction, there have been some significant changes in the administration of and methodology for long service leave in the industry. Employers now pay a payroll levy of 2.7 per cent, paid into the Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave) Funding Corporation. Yet award based long service leave was terminated under the Fair Work system. So provision was made via the Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave) Funding Amendment Act 2009 to maintain long service leave entitlements through the payroll levy and Commonwealth transfers to the corporation on behalf of all eligible employees, including non-award employees, from 1 January 2010. This bill will provide greater certainty to employees and employers; and, as noted by the minister, industry, unions, employers and employees are all wholeheartedly in support of it. The coalition also echoes that support. I thank the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The question is that this bill be now read a second time. I call the ever-efficient member for Makin!