Statutes Amendment (Industrial Relations Consultative Council) Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 13 October 2015.)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:20:32): I rise today on behalf of the Greens to make a short contribution to the bill before us today, the Statutes Amendment (Industrial Relations Consultative Council) Bill. This bill is, of course, part of the state government's promise to reform the state's boards and committee processes and membership in our state to reduce doubling up and waste. The Premier was quoted in an InDaily article on 8 July 2014 as stating:

The large number of boards and committees currently in existence contribute to duplication, unnecessary complexity and inefficiency within governm ent.

This bill does, indeed, seek to address some duplications that currently exist with regard to the three committees of the Industrial Relations Advisory Council, the SafeWork SA Advisory Council and the asbestos advisory council, and seeks to consolidate these committees into the Industrial Relations Consultative Council.

The Greens support this bill. In saying this, we certainly have not received correspondence raising any concerns about the bill. I think it is a reasonably simple and noncontroversial piece of legislation. I want to outline briefly the role and membership of the current committees.

The Industrial Relations Advisory Committee was established by section 46 of the state Fair Work Act 1994 and advises the minister on implementing policies affecting industrial relations and employment in the state and legislative proposals, and considers matters referred to the committee by the minister or by members of the committee. The current membership consists of 14 members, including the minister and the executive director of SafeWork SA. The other 12 members are appointed by the Governor, consisting of six persons nominated by the minister after consultation with SA Unions and six persons who are nominated upon recommendation from employer groups.

The SafeWork SA Advisory Council advises the Minister for Industrial Relations on work health and safety standards. It also promotes work health and safety education and training. It oversees the strategic directions of SafeWork SA and provides leadership on workplace safety. There are 11 members of this committee.

I did have some questions for the minister regarding this committee, specifically with respect to the advisory council's Strategic Plan 2012-2017. Will the goals and measures outlined in the strategic plan continue to be implemented under the Industrial Relations Consultative Council and will the target of a 50 per cent reduction in workplace injuries by 2022 continue to be the target under the new council? If the minister could take those on notice and provide a response as we press through the debate on this bill that would be most appreciated.

Finally, the asbestos advisory committee consists of 13 members. As mentioned, we have not heard any hesitation from stakeholders that we have spoken to about dissolving this committee with the understanding that it will be merged into the Industrial Relations Consultative Council. I note that in the other place the questions that I would have asked about the cost implications were both asked and addressed, and the financial impact of this bill is not of a great scale. I do note that, in fact, these are committees where people undertake the work for very minimal sitting fees and certainly it is not one of the gravy train committees that perhaps might better be the target of some of the state government's reform. That would be my only comment on that.

The bill sets up the Industrial Relations Consultative Council which will act as the chief advisory body responsible for providing advice to the Minister for Industrial Relations and will facilitate the administration of laws covering policy matters on work health and safety, asbestos-related matters and relevant industrial relations policies.

We are convinced that members of this new committee will be able to be drawn from a pool of people who can walk and chew gum on industrial relations at the same time, and will have the broadness of the expertise required, and we look forward to further reforms to improve work health and safety and industrial relations in this state. With those few words, I commend the bill.

Debate adjourned on motion of the Hon. T.J. Stephens.

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