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Wednesday, 22 March 2023
Page: 83

Senator BARBARA POCOCK (South Australia) (16:53): I want to offer some comments on the reports that have just been tabled. I welcome the contents and the material they present, which is very relevant to many matters before our parliament.

It's somewhat disappointing that the response to a report on the future of work has to wait five years to be tabled. It's a long time to spend without dealing with matters which really remain—and certainly were five years ago—very important. I say that as someone who has recently chaired a similar select committee, which looked at issues of work and care. That's a report which I hope does not have to linger on the shelf and wait five years for a response from the government. I would make the point that there's a range of additional material now before the parliament in the form of that Select Committee on Work and Care, and other matters. This material is very relevant to legislation we will be looking at over the coming course of the year. These reports point to the existence of labour shortages five years ago, and of the need to change the way in which we regulate and support workers.

There's clear evidence in more recent times that our labour participation rates in Australia can be increased by improvements in our Paid Parental Leave scheme—increasing the participation of people in work through better and cheaper child care—and by a range of measures that countries use which are referred to in these reports. There's clear evidence in them of the need to take action, particularly in relation to security of employment. It is very clear that we have too many casual workers, especially in our care sectors. Many of them who are on casual terms are unaware of their potential hours next week and are unable to predict their working time or, necessarily, get the support they need for the care to get to work.

I think there are many important issues raised in these reports which require a legislative and a policy response, which subsequent reports have also referred to and which I hope will lead to positive action to make a difference for working carers—men and women—and for their families into the future.

Question agreed to.