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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 9643

Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (10:21): I rise today to make some brief remarks in support of the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Bill 2012. This bill will replace the existing General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme, also known as GEERS, and enshrine the entitlements guarantee in legislation. Those employees who are unfortunate enough to lose their job, when their employer becomes insolvent or bankrupt, should not lose their entitlements as well. They have enough to worry about. In addition to the trauma of unemployment, they should not be concerned about being paid what they have already earned and are justly entitled to.

The Australian Greens support this bill to protect employees' entitlements where they may be at risk through no fault or risk of their own. It is only fair; it is only right. Legislating to protect unpaid entitlements—including redundancy, annual leave, long-service leave, wages, and payment in lieu of notice—is something that we welcome and something many Australians may be surprised to know does not already exist. The bill closes this gap and ensures that redundancy entitlements are paid up to four weeks per year of service.

We understand that there are some changes required to ensure that outworkers are covered and to ensure that claims can be made when there is a long contracting chain; however, we understand that these will be addressed through regulations and amendments at a later date.

I note that the bill has broad support from the union movement and the Greens are happy to facilitate its passage this year. I commend this bill to the Senate.