Where is the reform gig workers were promised?

Today Abigail questioned the Treasurer about what is being done to protect precarious gig economy workers.

GIG ECONOMY WORKERS

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (11:29): My question without notice is directed to the Treasurer and Minister for the Gig Economy. Sadly, a second Sydney food delivery driver has died this month. In Australia, 13 transport gig workers have died while at work since 2017. The New South Wales Labor Government has been in government for nearly six months, and the Treasurer was chair of the parliamentary committee that recommended remedies for the terribly unsafe working conditions of gig economy workers. Why is this reform taking so long? What action is the Government undertaking to protect the lives of precarious gig economy workers?

The Hon. DANIEL MOOKHEY (Treasurer) (11:30): I thank Ms Abigail Boyd for her question. We should reflect on the fact that in the span of the past month there have been two deaths of food delivery riders on New South Wales roads. We should make mention of their names. Akshay Doultani died at Epping on 22 July and Adil Abbas at Campbelltown on 12 August. They are two of the 13 workers who have lost their lives whilst at work. Unfortunately, most of those deaths have taken place in New South Wales. Equally, we are seeing repeated patterns when it comes to the platforms that people who are dying work for. It is unacceptable. It has never been acceptable. It has always been the case that regardless of whether someone goes to work as a gig worker, a casual worker or a permanent worker, they should come home safe. That is our obligation to set up, regardless of what we call someone. We can call them whatever we want; they have the same rights.

The member is quite right to point out that the Labor Party went to the election and got a mandate for the most far‑reaching gig economy reforms heretofore proposed by any State government of any political persuasion. We pledged to establish minimum standards when it comes to rights and remuneration. We can do that because in New South Wales we have, for generations, protected chapter six of the Industrial Relations Act. We said that gig workers should have access to similar conditions when it comes to workers compensation. We have equally said that they should have access to leave entitlements. We have a mandate to implement those policies, and we are going to implement those policies.

I have been asked why this is taking so long. Firstly, I do not think it is. Work is underway. We have already commenced reviewing SafeWork NSW and getting it up to form. Secondly, we should not be blind to the wider context taking place nationally. In the near future, the Senate is going to have the opportunity to agree on minimum national standards for people who are performing gig‑like work. That legislation is likely to be introduced in just a couple of weeks, and I make no apologies for the fact that we want to see the Federal legislation and see what is passed by the Senate so that we are in a position to ensure that when we go next, we take into account the developments that have taken place in that jurisdiction. Equally, we are talking with the Federal Government about making sure that we take our responsibility when it comes to the workers compensation piece. If I am asked for further detail, I will be able to tell the member more.

 

Read the full Hansard transcript here.

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