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Wednesday, 16 October 2002
Page: 5343

Senator Sherry asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, upon notice, on 27 August 2002:

With reference to the Building and Construction Industry Interim Taskforce announced by the Government on 20 August 2002:

(1) Will the taskforce have a written charter or mission; if so, what will it be.

(2) Apart from law enforcement, will the taskforce be concerned with productivity and general industrial relations issues.

(3) How is the success or performance of the taskforce to be measured (eg. The number of prosecutions, improved performance and productivity in the industry, etc).

(4) Will the taskforce consult with industry (eg. employers, unions, etc).

(5) What is the estimated cost of the interim taskforce in each of the following financial years: (a) 2002-03; and (b) 2003-04.

(6) How much of this cost will be met by: (a) the department; (b) current departmental appropriations; and (c) additional appropriations.

(7) How much of this cost will be met by the following departments and agencies:

(a) the Attorney-General's Department;

(b) the Australian Federal Police;

(c) the Australian Taxation Office;

(d) the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission;

(e) the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission;

(f) the Office of the Employment Advocate; and

(g) any other Commonwealth or state department or agency.

(8) Will any funds budgeted for the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry be re-allocated to meet the cost of the interim taskforce.

(9) If funds and resources are to be diverted within relevant departments and agencies to meet the operational and establishment requirements of the taskforce, from which areas in each of the departments and agencies will funds and resources be diverted.

(10) (a) How many full-time staff will the taskforce employ; and

(b) how many part-time staff will the taskforce employ.

(11) (a) Which departments and agencies will make staff available to the interim taskforce; and (b) how many staff from each department and agency will be seconded to the taskforce.

(12) (a) How many staff who have worked for the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry will work for the interim taskforce; and (b) what proportion of the taskforce's staff does this represent.

(13) (a) Which Commonwealth laws will the interim taskforce be responsible for enforcing; and (b) which laws are excluded from the brief of the interim taskforce.

(14) (a) Will the taskforce seek the cooperation of state and territory departments and agencies; if so, which ones; and (b) how will the taskforce deal with issues that arise under state or territory law (eg. Occupational health and safety).

Senator Alston (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The charter and mission statement will be a matter for the Head of the Interim Taskforce to settle once appointed, although the Taskforce's fundamental job, to ensure the rule of law in the construction industry, has been set out in the Government's statement to Parliament.

(2) The Interim Taskforce's primary responsibility is to secure lawful conduct throughout the industry.

(3) The performance of the Interim Taskforce will be measured by the extent of improvement in the conduct and practices occurring on building sites and better workplace relations outcomes in the industry.

(4) Yes.

(5) The estimated cost is $6.5 million until 30 June 2003. No allocation has been made for the 2003-04 financial year.

(6) The estimated $6.5 million is being provided through an additional appropriation.

(7) See the answer to question 6.

(8) No.

(9) See answer to question 6.

(10) The staffing arrangements for the Interim Taskforce are yet to be finalised but it is expected that some 25 people will be engaged by the taskforce.

(11) The staffing arrangements for the Interim Taskforce are yet to be finalised.

(12) The staffing arrangements for the Interim Taskforce are yet to be finalised.

(13) The Workplace Relations Act 1996. Breach of other laws will be referred to appropriate agencies.

(14) The Interim Taskforce, upon becoming aware of an alleged or possible breach of a State or territory law, will refer the matter to the relevant State or territory agency.