ACT to introduce long-awaited jobs code after union letterbox blitz

ACT to introduce long-awaited jobs code after union letterbox blitz

Legislation to stop companies that have ripped off workers getting government contracts will be introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly, days after the construction union blitzed letterboxes with leaflets accusing workplace relations minister Rachel Stephen-Smith of failing workers.

ACT Labor promised to create a local jobs code to safeguard safety, pay and conditions on public projects at the 2016 branch conference.

The code formalises a memorandum of understanding the Barr government has with Unions ACT, which has come under fire from federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and Canberra Liberals Industrial Relations spokesman Andrew Wall.

A discussion paper from February said the code would safeguard a worker's right to associate, and create an active role for unions in the induction of workers in a way that would not trigger conflict with Fair Work right of entry provisions.

However unions have condemned the government for dragging its feet on the code.


The CFMEU last week filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court alleging workers on Canberra's light rail project had been ripped off $700,000.

The union also bombarded Canberra letterboxes with leaflets accusing Ms Stephen-Smith of abandoning the promised jobs code.

CFMEU ACT secretary Jason O'Mara warned the campaign could escalate to include phone calls and door knocking if the issue remained unresolved.

The jobs code is one of several pieces of legislation that will be highlighted by Chief Minister Andrew Barr in his spring priorities statement, with a bill to be tabled this week.

"This is an important reform. Workers deserve fair pay and secure entitlements," Mr Barr is expected to say.

"They have the right to organise and be represented by their union. We will ensure the companies and organisations we award work to uphold those rights."

Mr Barr will also introduce draft laws that will levy a 15 per cent wagering tax net betting revenue generated by gambling companies through bets placed in the ACT as well as bets made by ACT residents.

The tax was outlined in the June budget and brings the ACT in line with other jurisdictions.

The government will also introduce legislation to support the territory becoming a self-insurer under Comcare.

The Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services will also announce on Tuesday which animal will become the ACT's mammal emblem.

The unusual inquiry was sparked by an ABC Canberra campaign, but soon attracted the attention of Triple J, whose presenters Gen Fricker and Lewis Hobba wrote to the committee advocating for band Peking Duk to become the emblem.

While senior Labor figures Anthony Albanese, Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek backed the Canberra band, the committee shortlisted the eastern bettong and the southern brush-tailed rock wallaby.

The final decision was put out to a public poll, which closed at the end of June.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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