Long Service Benefits Portability Bill 2018

Written on the 24 August 2018


24 August 2018

COUNCIL 

Second reading 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)

 

I am pleased to rise this morning and speak to the Long Service Benefits Portability Bill 2018 in relation to some of the concerns that I have. I note that other members have raised their concerns during the course of the debate this morning. It is symptomatic of this government that we have had no consultation and rushed and botched legislation being debated here today. This government has not taken the time or the consideration to understand the full impacts of what this legislation would mean to the workforce or, importantly, to employers. That has been very evident from what has been happening over the course of the last few months since the introduction of the legislation it has been on the notice paper and it has been off the notice paper.

In the early education sector that I shadow the conversations I have had with various providers have been telling. It is absolutely clear that the government has had them on a chain and strung them along, to the point where I have been receiving queries from a whole range of providers and people asking, 'Do you know what's going on, because we do not?'. I said that I would endeavour to find out. I texted Minister Mikakos's chief of staff at 11.00 a.m. on Tuesday asking him to tell me what was going on because the sector were asking and everybody wanted some clarity. I got a text message back at 10 to 10 this morning from him apologising for the delay in his response and telling us, as Mr Ondarchie has said, with 4 minutes to go, that amendments had come in. What a disgrace.

These are the reasons why it is a disgrace. The government again has just bulldozed their way through with no consultation. Those in the early education sector have said in no uncertain terms that this bill is flawed because it is a mechanism that does not work. It does not take into consideration the 65 per cent of early childhood sector employers who are private providers. The portability of those workers in that sector

Ms Mikakos So you support bringing them into scope, do you?

 

Ms CROZIER Ms Mikakos, you have made a monumental stuff-up here and you know it. Through you, Acting President, the minister has made a monumental stuff-up with this. The sector know it and all those workers know it, and she should hang her head in shame. It is another failure by this minister demonstrating just how incapable she is.

There was no consultation. The early learning sector have said to me that there has been no consultation, that the consultation has been distinctly lacking from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Department of Education and Training (DET). I have got it in writing, and I am happy to table it. They have said 'distinctly lacking'. The commitments were broken regarding further consultation with the sector. The minister's credibility has been trashed because of the disingenuous approach she has taken to this important area. It is telling, because those employers actually know and have said time and time again, 'We want this to work, but the government is not listening to our concerns'. Then they shove it through.

How on earth, with 4 minutes until we commenced the debate and when our lead speaker was on his feet, did he have the time to take up the offer of a briefing? How utterly arrogant of this government to even suggest that we would get across those details. It has been a monumental stuff-up by this government. The costs that would have been incurred by employers in the early education sector just demonstrate how lacking the government's knowledge is. They were looking at the ACT model. A 1 per cent increase in the costs incurred would have a huge implication for the early education sector and those employers. Where would that go? It would get passed on to the parents, the families of Victoria, who are already struggling under the rising cost-of-living pressures under this government. We see that time and time again with electricity prices. The closure of Hazelwood has had a massive impact on pensioners, families and, more importantly, all those businesses that employ people within Victoria, the businesses who keep Victorians in employment.

This morning we hear and I digress slightly, but it is an important point to make, because this impost of an increase in early education would have been passed on to families and parents

Ms Mikakos Do you not support workers in this sector having long service leave?

Ms CROZIER It is like the cost well, here you go again. You are just verballing go on, have a go.

Ms Mikakos So do you support them having long service leave?

Ms CROZIER Ms Mikakos, your credibility has been shot. As I have said, your credibility is absolutely shot. You have not taken into consideration anything the sector has said. As I was saying, the cost-of-living pressures were going to be passed on by this minister and this government. As for the electricity costs, we know that there is a one-in-three chance that the lights are going to go out in summer because of this government's actions.

Ms Mikakos How is any of this relevant?

 

Ms CROZIER We see what is happening under the administration of this government. Their approach is to just shut down Hazelwood, their approach is to just push through legislation like this, with no consultation. That is the relevance, Ms Mikakos, because you have actually ignored the workers and you have ignored the families of Victoria who would have incurred the costs that you were going to apply.

Now, if I can go to the point that Dr Carling-Jenkins made. Through you, Acting President, Dr Carling-Jenkins made a very important point around disability services. Again, there are massive flaws with the government's legislation on this. I have a very, very good disability service in the area of Southern Metropolitan Region Marriot Support Services. They raised concerns with us months ago about the really huge impost that this legislation would have had. Again, who does it hurt? Who does it impact? Those very people that are being supported. This is just a shocking disregard for the impacts of rushed and botched legislation. If workers leave the sector because they cannot be supported or employers cannot afford them, that does not help anyone, does it? You can have all the long service you like but if you do not have a job, there is no long service anyway. You have not thought it through; you have just been absolutely arrogant in your disregard for the impacts on those workers.

The main concerns in these very vital areas are around the retention of staff and recruitment of staff keeping those staff in these positions so they can undertake the incredible work that they do, whether it is in the early education sector that I have shadow responsibility for or the disability sector that I have just mentioned. These other areas are all entirely important in the work that they do the cleaners, all of these employees but to lump all of these sectors in together just shows that you are paying back your mates and not thinking about those people on the ground that this bill would have directly affected. It has been an absolute disgrace. What it has done is left so much uncertainty, because there is no guarantee that you will not bring this back in at a later date. What guarantee will you give that it will not be brought back into the early education sector just because you have brought in this last-minute amendment at 2 minutes to midnight, or 4 minutes before 9.30 this morning to say that it will not happen?

Nobody trusts you. You have got a Premier out there who ripped up a contract, saying it was not worth the paper it was written on. You have trashed volunteers. You have not consulted in so many areas. You have just been an absolute disgrace in the way you have conducted the governance in government. And that does not go to the point that others have made in relation to your credibility and what you believe in. You are very happy to hide behind the rorts that you covered up sending it off to the High Court says it all. I make that point because it is about the character of this government; it is about the character of these ministers.

Ms Mikakos interjected.

 

Ms CROZIER Minister Mikakos sits across the chamber it is the character of this government which is so off the money in relation to understanding the impacts of their legislation. It would have had an impact and it would have been very considerable.

Ms Mikakos You do not care about workers at all. What about residential care workers or those working in foster care? Do you care about them?

Ms CROZIER What about those people in foster care, Ms Mikakos? They are leaving in droves, aren't they? They are leaving in droves. You have not been very successful another failure. Whether it is foster care, youth justice or any other thing, you are a failure. You have failed the early education sector in relation to understanding the impacts of this legislation, Ms Mikakos, because, as I said, increasing the costs to employers would have a direct impact on parents and those very people that rely on the very vital early education sector or the disability sector all those areas that you have finally come to the party on. It is just extraordinary to see what you have done.

You might have said that what this will do is establish a Portable Long Service Benefits Authority to administer the scheme, with a board of up to nine persons appointed by the minister and a registered CEO. I feel like I am going through the debate last night in relation to the independence of an authority, but it will be appointed by the minister and get signed off at arm's length. Well, we all know how this government works: it is jobs for the boys left, right and centre. This is another payoff like we have seen with so many other issues with this government like the Country Fire Authority payoff to the United Firefighters Union. This shows an incredible, blatant disregard for what is decent and right, Ms Mikakos, and you do not have the decency to give this absolute guarantee to these people because you will not; we know it. Your government has time and time again hidden behind the facts. You time and time again hide behind the debacle that is youth justice, and you have made a hash of this as well.

As I said, the complexities and the administration of this scheme would have been horrendous for the early education sector. One only has to look at what happened in the ACT to see how it actually is not delivering and the huge IT implications that it will need to deliver, the payroll complexities or even the administration.

Honourable members interjecting.

 

Ms CROZIER I know those opposite are very tetchy about their stuff-up with this legislation, as they should be, because they have demonstrated this morning just how desperate they are by giving the opposition and other members of this chamber their amendments. The insecurity and the non-guarantees to this sector are profound. I think it is incredibly disappointing that the minister has undertaken and displayed this level of arrogance and disregard to all of those concerned. They have a window, I suppose, of knowing that if this gets through today, they will have that security for a short time. But what then? What happens in the future? Because there is no guarantee in this legislation that the government will not bring back this sector and again force on it the complexity of this administration. Forget about the not-for-profit sector, where 65 per cent of early educators are, and all those people who rely on that all those workers who do such incredibly significant and good, hard work in such a vital area. There is no guarantee for them, because the costs will be passed on and services will suffer because those employers have to pass their costs onto someone. It either goes to cutting staff, cutting services or parents copping the costs. The cost of living in this state is rising. There are increases in taxes, as we know, and this is just another demonstration of this government that has wasted money.

Ms Shing interjected.

Ms CROZIER It cost $1.3 billion, Ms Shing, ripping up the eastwest link contract. Man, oh, man! You reckon that Victorians have not remembered that. But again through you, Acting President I say that I will not be verballed by those opposite. They know they have made a monumental stuff-up with this legislation, and in the few seconds that I have remaining I think it is incredibly disappointing that the communication in relation to how they have conducted themselves with the sector and with others has been a disgrace. It has been arrogant, and it says a lot about this government. They have just got this extraordinary mentality to ride roughshod over everyone. The only ones who would have lost out are families, children, people in the disability sector and those various workers who would have suffered because of the cost to services that

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Ms Patten) Thank you, Ms Crozier.

 

 


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