On 4 July 2019 the Senate referred the provisions of the Fair Work Laws Amendment (Proper Use of Worker Benefits) Bill 2019 (the bill) to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report by 25 October 2019.
Conduct of the inquiry
Details of the inquiry were made available on the committee's website. The committee also contacted a number of organisations and individuals inviting submissions to the inquiry. Submissions were received from 37 organisations and individuals, as detailed at Appendix 1.
The committee held five public hearings:
Canberra, 12 September 2019;
Brisbane, 13 September 2019;
Melbourne, 20 September 2019;
Sydney, 24 September 2019; and
Hobart, 25 September 2019.
The witness lists for the hearings can be found at Appendix 2.
Compatibility with human rights
The statement of compatibility with human rights for the bill states that it is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (joint committee) did not comment specifically on the bill.
However, during the 45th Parliament it considered the bill's precursor, the Fair Work Laws Amendment (Proper Use of Worker Benefits) Bill 2017 (2017 bill).
The committee raised a number of concerns with the 2017 bill and sought advice from the Minister for Employment. The concerns included the compatibility of certain measures in the bill with:
the right to freedom of association;
the right to just and favourable conditions of work;
the right to freedom of assembly and expression; and
the right to collectively bargain.
Further detail on these concerns can be found in Report 12 of 2017, Report 1 of 2018, and Report 2 of 2018.
In Report 3 of 2019, the joint committee considered the 2019 bill and reiterated the views it expressed with regard to the 2017 bill.
Consideration by the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills
During the 45th Parliament the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills (Scrutiny committee) considered and commented on the 2017 bill. In its Scrutiny Digest 3 of 2019, the Scrutiny committee stated that it reiterated its previous comments on a number of lapsed bills subsequently reintroduced to the 46th Parliament, including the Fair Work Laws Amendment (Proper Use of Worker Benefits) Bill 2019.
Further detail on the Scrutiny committee's consideration of the 2017 version of the bill is contained in Chapter 2 of this report.
Financial impact statement
The explanatory memorandum states that the bill will have a 'minor' financial impact.
The committee thanks those individuals and organisations who contributed to the inquiry by preparing written submissions and giving evidence at public hearings.
Notes on references
References in this report to the Hansard for the public hearings are to the proof Hansard. Page numbers may vary between the proof and official transcripts.