Parliament: Speeches on Bills

Industry Advocate Bill

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I would like to start by thanking Chris Picton from the other place for briefing my office on this bill and also for arranging for the current Industry Advocate, Ian Nightingale, to be present at that briefing as well. I would also like to thank Nari Chandler.

The Dignity Party will be supporting this bill. We will, however, not be supporting the Hon. Rob Lucas’s amendments to the bill, as we believe they reduce accountability and transparency. Given that this bill is about encouraging local jobs and the use of local skills, transparency and accountability are, of course, vital when it comes to advocating for many, many workers in different industries.

To that end, I would like to thank the government and the Industry Advocate for giving consideration to some of the issues that my office raised on my behalf throughout the briefings on this bill, including the need for the Industry Advocate to support cultural change around two areas which impact in particular people with disabilities through tendering processes.

The first, of course, is the need to increasingly employ people with an identified disability in businesses, companies and organisations to whom the government tenders out their projects. At present, the state government is not even meeting its own targets for public sector employment of people with disabilities. Perhaps at least it could ensure the companies they are tendering out to have better practices in place.

The second issue is around ensuring that projects the government tenders out might consider not just minimum standards of disability accessibility but also best practice universal design and other principles to make the businesses not only accessible to employees and visitors with disabilities but the entire population.

While I appreciate that it could be argued that the points I am making currently do not strictly fall within the purview of the Industry Advocate, given that this is about increasing local jobs, I think it is somewhat relevant because we would very much like to see disability considered within all policies and departments in this state. As we all know, disability is not a discrete topic that we only consider in the context of disabled people or people who are currently disabled. Particularly with an ageing population, it is very important that we invest in making all facets of our great state accessible to all.

Of course, as we are increasingly expected to work to an older age as well, the need to make the workplace more accessible will become more and more apparent. It is fantastic to have this Industry Advocate role in place in a statutory sense to now push for innovation and increased employment in more and more areas. Particularly as employment drifts away from areas like the automotive industry, with the loss of Mitsubishi and Holden’s, it is really important that we invest.

The Dignity Party has been very vocal about the need to encourage people to go into growing areas like disability support industries and also about the increasing need for the manufacture of assistive technology—wheelchairs, adapted cars and so on—that will, again, increasingly be needed as our population ages.

We think there is a great opportunity for some people leaving the automotive industry to perhaps take on a role to use their existing skills to produce those types of products. That is something we certainly hope to work on ourselves with the Industry Advocate to ensure that it does happen, as well as the increased employment of people with an identified disability. With those few brief words, I commend the bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. D.W. Ridgway.