Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation

Thank you for that, Mr Acting Deputy President, so I will keep my remarks to three or four minutes. It is great to follow Senator McKenzie, who is so knowledgeable on this bill and, as she outlined, had chaired an inquiry into this bill.

It is not a bill that I have followed closely, but one thing that became apparent while I was sitting here listening to Senator McKenzie's contribution was the position of the Labor Party. I do not understand why they are opposing this bill. This is a very administrative, technical bill. It makes very sensible changes. Apparently the Labor Party may not be opposing it as they have some weird position that we are in a grand conspiracy with the ACT Labor government and the former ACT Chief Minister, now Senator Gallagher. Maybe that is the case. Maybe I am just not high enough up the post to know. Perhaps we are in a grand conspiracy with these people.

Through you, Mr Acting Deputy President, Senator Cameron noticed that I was laughing at the time. I was thinking that the opposition would pretty much oppose everything we put up at this stage. I am a fan of The Lego Movie that came out last year, which is a fantastic movie. In that movie there is an evil character called President Business, who decides to have Free Taco Tuesday where everybody can have tacos for free on a Tuesday. I reckon, if we came up with a plan for free tacos on Tuesday, the opposition would oppose it. They would oppose everything that we put up.

Honourable senators interjecting—


It is not about what is in the taco; it is because the taco is being offered by someone called Tony Abbott. That is why the opposition are opposed to it. That is why the Greens are opposed to everything as well. They are opposed to anything that we come up with. That is fine and that can be their position.

If the opposition are successful in opposing this bill, they will be defrauding the workers of our country, particularly the public sector workers, because it is public sector workers that are largely covered by the Comcare scheme. This bill helps to ensure that the protections those workers—and I used to be a public sector worker—are offered under their employment agreements are maintained and funded throughout their working lives and beyond their employment with any individual employer. That is why I have struggled to understand why this bill is being opposed. This is a very simple and common arrangement for schemes like this.

In the very short time I have left I want to draw a comparison. What we are doing is establishing an exit fee. People who want to leave the scheme need to pay and make sure that they fund the future liabilities that may otherwise have accrued to them if they had stayed in the scheme. It is very similar to something we do in the Murray-Darling Basin when an irrigator wants to leave an irrigation scheme. We, and the Labor Party have supported this in the past, we have established a price that that irrigator must pay to the other users of the scheme to cover the network costs that they would have had to bear if they had continued in the scheme. It is fair on those that are left and it is fair on the person that leaves because it is an appropriate cost to reflect the other costs imposed on other people in the scheme. This bill simply does that. It is a Murray-Darling initiative coming to the public sectors of the ACT, and it should be supported.

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