Ministers statements: labour hire industry

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Industrial Relations) — I rise to update the house on some significant developments in my portfolio. Recently federal Parliament established a black economy task force, which we have made a submission to. That task force has linked elements of the black economy, including within horticulture and labour hire, to serious criminal behaviour such as money laundering, immigration fraud and other abuses.

Appeals for action by this government to the Liberal-Nationals government in Canberra have fallen upon deaf ears. There has been no commitment to a national labour hire system by the federal government. In that void we are taking action. We are taking action to protect businesses and workers from organised crime and exploitation by establishing a new labour hire licensing scheme. What this will mean is that we will be putting in place safeguards that will make it harder for organisations like market gardeners and their associates or their dinner companions — you know, like Uncle Frank and Cousin Tony — to be unwittingly associated with organised crime syndicates by requiring the labour hire providers they engage to have a fit and proper person test.

Mr Watt — On a point of order, Speaker, I will not be pleading the mercy rule, but what I will be pleading is for you to actually ask the minister to table her contribution. Clearly she is reading from a speech. She is not entitled to read from a speech. If she is going to continue to do that, she should just table it and save us all the agony.

The SPEAKER — I ask the minister: were you reading from a document or referring to notes? She was referring to notes.

Ms HUTCHINS — I know those opposite are more focused on having dinner with their mates and doing dirty, dodgy deals around penthouses and so forth, but we are cracking down on real crime. We are cracking down on organised crime through the labour hire industry. We are doing what we can as a government to stand up for vulnerable workers. I look forward to those opposite supporting this new legislation when we bring it through this house — to them actually standing up against organised crime that is utilising the labour hire industry and that is putting in place sham contracting — to ensure that we are actually ruling that out and not having dinner with lobsters and mobsters.

Mr Watt — On a point of order, Speaker, on 8 August I asked a very clear question, with no preamble, to the Minister for Police. It was a very simple, very specific question: how many police stations are in the Boroondara service area? I asked the minister more than 30 days ago. I am currently looking on my phone at the database, which says the question is still unanswered. I am uncertain as to why the minister is unable to answer the question, but I would ask for you to require the minister to respond in writing. She is supposed to, under the standing orders, give me the answer to the question that I am asking. How many police stations are in the Boroondara service area? She has not responded in writing. I would ask for you to make that happen.

Ms Hutchins — On the point of order, Speaker, the member was reading from his phone. Perhaps he would like to table his phone in the Parliament.

The SPEAKER — There is no point of order. The member for Burwood was referring to the question number. Before calling the member for Ringwood, I think the member for Burwood raised this issue yesterday in the house. My office is pursuing the matter with the minister’s office.

Ms Ryall — On a point of order, Speaker, on 20 June this year I raised a question on notice for the Minister for Health. It is question 12 815, and I have raised it on successive sittings post the 30-day period. Sessional order 10 requires the minister to answer within 30 days. We are now well and truly past that. I note that on each occasion you have said that you will ask the minister to respond. It is clearly not working. I would request that an urgent response to my question dated June be forthcoming.

The SPEAKER — I thank the member for her point of order. I can advise the member that we followed the matter up yesterday, and I understand that the answer has been provided to the question.

Mr Wakeling — On a point of order, likewise I wish to raise a matter regarding question 12 748, which was an adjournment matter I had for the Minister for Veterans. It was a matter I raised on 6 June, and that matter likewise has not been responded to. I request your assistance in asking the minister to respond to that question.

The SPEAKER — We will follow that one up, but I do remind members that points of order about unanswered adjournment items should be raised at the start of the adjournment debate.