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Authorised by Matt Fregon MP, 1/40 Montclair Avenue GLEN WAVERLEY VIC 3150

Media Centre

2021 Autumn Edition – Waverley Community News

2021 Autumn Edition - Waverley Community News 

Adjournment – Online gaming regulation

https://youtu.be/nlMyDQNjUKM Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:03): My adjournment item this evening is to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation. The action I seek is for the minister to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government can raise awareness of gambling-like gaming which is available to our children and young adults. Yesterday in the house I raised the issue of loot boxes and my concerns around their gambling-like design and the overall lack of regulation and consumer protections across the video and online gaming industry. Particularly concerning is the ability of children or those under 18 to access these games without restrictions, classifications or warnings that might let parents know what is in them despite mounting concern that the mechanics of loot boxes are encouraging gambling-style behaviour among kids, potentially leading them to addiction later in life. There is compelling data showing that when you expose children to gambling tendencies they can develop gambling problems as adults. To put this in perspective I would like to provide some statistics to give indication as to the reach and scope of this issue. In 2020, 91 per cent of Australian households owned a video game device and 81 per cent of children aged between five and 14 years played video games. Australians are among the highest per capita spenders on video games in the world, with the total gaming and eSports revenue hitting $3.175 billion in 2019 and $3.403 billion in 2020. The in-game digital purchase segment grew a staggering 190 per cent year on year. As I mentioned yesterday, over a dozen industrialised countries around the world are investigating and regulating loot boxes. The Netherlands and Belgium have banned them entirely because of their gambling-like design. Yet in Australia there is zero regulation and federal classification does not do anything about them. The industry has failed to sufficiently and efficiently self-regulate by implementing ethical game design principles. Whilst jurisdiction falls largely in the federal sphere, at a state government level surely we can raise awareness and look into steps to safeguard our Victorian children from being exposed to this potentially harmful virtual content. I look forward to the minister’s response on this very important issue.

Adjournment – Online gaming regulation

https://youtu.be/nlMyDQNjUKM Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:03): My adjournment item this evening is to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation. The action I seek is for the minister to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government can raise awareness of gambling-like gaming which is available to our children and young adults. Yesterday in the house I raised the issue of loot boxes and my concerns around their gambling-like design and the overall lack of regulation and consumer protections across the video and online gaming industry. Particularly concerning is the ability of children or those under 18 to access these games without restrictions, classifications or warnings that might let parents know what is in them despite mounting concern that the mechanics of loot boxes are encouraging gambling-style behaviour among kids, potentially leading them to addiction later in life. There is compelling data showing that when you expose children to gambling tendencies they can develop gambling problems as adults. To put this in perspective I would like to provide some statistics to give indication as to the reach and scope of this issue. In 2020, 91 per cent of Australian households owned a video game device and 81 per cent of children aged between five and 14 years played video games. Australians are among the highest per capita spenders on video games in the world, with the total gaming and eSports revenue hitting $3.175 billion in 2019 and $3.403 billion in 2020. The in-game digital purchase segment grew a staggering 190 per cent year on year. As I mentioned yesterday, over a dozen industrialised countries around the world are investigating and regulating loot boxes. The Netherlands and Belgium have banned them entirely because of their gambling-like design. Yet in Australia there is zero regulation and federal classification does not do anything about them. The industry has failed to sufficiently and efficiently self-regulate by implementing ethical game design principles. Whilst jurisdiction falls largely in the federal sphere, at a state government level surely we can raise awareness and look into steps to safeguard our Victorian children from being exposed to this potentially harmful virtual content. I look forward to the minister’s response on this very important issue.

Second Reading-WORKPLACE INJURY REHABILITATION AND COMPENSATION AMENDMENT (ARBITRATION) BILL 2021

https://youtu.be/VUNHAFVpUiU Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (18:24): I also rise to speak on the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Arbitration) Bill 2021 and to share my voice—along with all my colleagues definitely and hopefully those on the other side, who I do not believe are opposing this bill, which is good news—about the importance of workplace safety for all workers and also for employees who usually work in their own businesses. So this is for everybody but obviously we are talking about workers. I thank the Minister for Workplace Safety for her considerable work on this, and the Attorney-General and also our former fantastic Attorney-General, who is sitting here as well, for their considerable work.   Ms Hennessy interjected.   Mr FREGON: I will give it a go. Workplace safety is fundamental to a safe community and a thriving economy and fundamental to this government and the Labor Party that I am a proud member of. The changes in where and how we work continue to create new challenges for us all and for the safety of us at work. It was only yesterday in the house when I was speaking on the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 that I was talking about the gig economy and our delivery drivers who are now employed via devices. What we see with that is an increasing pressure on those drivers to do more and more work in shorter and shorter time spans, and of course that decreases safety. That pushes those workers to try and earn that little bit more by getting the job done quicker. Some of those employers—and I will call them employers, because that is effectively what they are—take that to levels where if you are not quite quick enough, they throw you off the system.   I was very happy, as I said yesterday, to see HungryPanda actually reinstate two workers who were going to take it to litigation. I am glad that was sorted, but this is thin edge of the wedge stuff and it is something that I am definitely keeping my eyes on. I know that we will continue to work for the benefit of all workers, including those in the gig economy.   In 2019 I was happy when our government altered the way that we record workplace fatalities on the road. On 1 July we will start to count those transport workers who unfortunately perish on our roads as workplace fatalities. I think that is an important step forward, to really understand, because the roads are a workplace. I congratulate my good friends down at the Transport Workers Union and John Berger and his team again for their good work doing that, and obviously the Premier and the whole Andrews government for understanding and doing the work to benefit all Victorians at work.   Injuries in the workplace can have devastating consequences for workers. In this case we are talking about the arbitration scheme that we are putting in with this bill. Arbitration is obviously a much easier way to process matters through the justice system, when possible. It is not always possible, and there are still mechanisms for taking things further, should that be required. There are limited appeal processes as well, even if you go through arbitration, if it is a rule of law matter.   This is a good step, because far too often people who have deep pockets take advantage of our legal system for as long as they want to—and good on them; well done—but those whose pockets do not go quite so deep find it very tough to get their justice. The more we can do to level that playing field I am all for, and this arbitration process that we are talking about today is one way of making sure that that access to justice for people is fair.   As a proud member of a Labor government it would be remiss of me not to go back to our legacy of Labor governments in this state. Obviously we said goodbye to former Premier John Cain only recently. In 1985, under his leadership, it was a Victorian Labor government which established the Transport Accident Commission but also WorkCare, obviously the forerunner of WorkSafe as we know it today. So they were reforming governments all the way back then. It is important for us to also realise that these changes take time to really gel themselves in the culture of our state. In 1985 you might start a reform process, but when we are sitting here, 36 years later, we have a culture in workplaces now where we know that WorkSafe is there. We know if people see things that are unsafe they are inclined to talk to their unions, their bosses. They are inclined to, if they need to, call WorkSafe and notify them of things going wrong.   I remember back in 1991 I did a summer in a warehouse running cables locally. It was just a summer job and we earned bit of money, but we had a lot of very large cables in this warehouse and by the end of the summer I was driving a forklift around. I did not have a forklift licence. I do not think anyone in the store had a forklift licence. Now, I would hope that that sort of thing no longer happens. I hope the statute of limitations has run out on not having a fork lift licence too, by the way, because I have just owned up to that one. But those things used to happen everywhere. You know, if you got a job as a young person, you would go there and the bosses—and they were good bosses; it was a good place to work—would say, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll be right. You’ll be fine. No worries, mate. There you go’. We have seen what happens when it is not fine. We have seen what happens when it goes wrong. Now, luckily nothing went wrong then and no-one got hurt. I think we all understand that when you set off to work in the morning and you kiss your family goodbye there is an expectation that everybody should be able to come home, and if something goes wrong in that process then it is fair and right that there be some form of compensation.   Workers comp has been around for ages, but the problem if we go back to 1985—I was very young—but my memories are it was just private insurance companies you were dealing with. I do not think all insurance companies are evil. I do not think they are all good. I think they are companies. They do not have a soul; they are just companies. They are there for profit and they are there to do their job, and corporate structures just have processes. Like the member for Frankston mentioned before about some of the emails going backwards and forwards, a few guys get a bit too excited that they have kept the KPIs down for the month and then people get hurt and, again as the member for Frankston said, if you do not actually know the person that you are talking about, it may just not gel that they are real people and they have got families and they are out of work. And as others have said, they want to get back to work. So that process, when an insurance company just does what it does and extends it and extends it—every day that is making one person, one family, one extended family and one community worse off.   So a bill like this enables a process for us to speed that up to make it fairer, and we have very, very talented mediators and arbitrators in this state. I have had conversations with some of those people around meeting rooms at the Victorian Bar, and they are very serious about alternative dispute resolution. It is a really good process, it works a lot of the time and it saves us all. It not only saves time and money for the people who in this case are injured but it also saves time and money for the other side. It will save time and money for the insurance companies because you get together and you work it out. So I think we are doing some very important work here. It continues six, seven and, I think, many more years of very important work that the Andrews Labor government has been doing, and I commend this bill to the house.

Second Reading-WORKPLACE INJURY REHABILITATION AND COMPENSATION AMENDMENT (ARBITRATION) BILL 2021

https://youtu.be/VUNHAFVpUiU Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (18:24): I also rise to speak on the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Arbitration) Bill 2021 and to share my voice—along with all my colleagues definitely and hopefully those on the other side, who I do not believe are opposing this bill, which is good news—about the importance of workplace safety for all workers and also for employees who usually work in their own businesses. So this is for everybody but obviously we are talking about workers. I thank the Minister for Workplace Safety for her considerable work on this, and the Attorney-General and also our former fantastic Attorney-General, who is sitting here as well, for their considerable work.   Ms Hennessy interjected.   Mr FREGON: I will give it a go. Workplace safety is fundamental to a safe community and a thriving economy and fundamental to this government and the Labor Party that I am a proud member of. The changes in where and how we work continue to create new challenges for us all and for the safety of us at work. It was only yesterday in the house when I was speaking on the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 that I was talking about the gig economy and our delivery drivers who are now employed via devices. What we see with that is an increasing pressure on those drivers to do more and more work in shorter and shorter time spans, and of course that decreases safety. That pushes those workers to try and earn that little bit more by getting the job done quicker. Some of those employers—and I will call them employers, because that is effectively what they are—take that to levels where if you are not quite quick enough, they throw you off the system.   I was very happy, as I said yesterday, to see HungryPanda actually reinstate two workers who were going to take it to litigation. I am glad that was sorted, but this is thin edge of the wedge stuff and it is something that I am definitely keeping my eyes on. I know that we will continue to work for the benefit of all workers, including those in the gig economy.   In 2019 I was happy when our government altered the way that we record workplace fatalities on the road. On 1 July we will start to count those transport workers who unfortunately perish on our roads as workplace fatalities. I think that is an important step forward, to really understand, because the roads are a workplace. I congratulate my good friends down at the Transport Workers Union and John Berger and his team again for their good work doing that, and obviously the Premier and the whole Andrews government for understanding and doing the work to benefit all Victorians at work.   Injuries in the workplace can have devastating consequences for workers. In this case we are talking about the arbitration scheme that we are putting in with this bill. Arbitration is obviously a much easier way to process matters through the justice system, when possible. It is not always possible, and there are still mechanisms for taking things further, should that be required. There are limited appeal processes as well, even if you go through arbitration, if it is a rule of law matter.   This is a good step, because far too often people who have deep pockets take advantage of our legal system for as long as they want to—and good on them; well done—but those whose pockets do not go quite so deep find it very tough to get their justice. The more we can do to level that playing field I am all for, and this arbitration process that we are talking about today is one way of making sure that that access to justice for people is fair.   As a proud member of a Labor government it would be remiss of me not to go back to our legacy of Labor governments in this state. Obviously we said goodbye to former Premier John Cain only recently. In 1985, under his leadership, it was a Victorian Labor government which established the Transport Accident Commission but also WorkCare, obviously the forerunner of WorkSafe as we know it today. So they were reforming governments all the way back then. It is important for us to also realise that these changes take time to really gel themselves in the culture of our state. In 1985 you might start a reform process, but when we are sitting here, 36 years later, we have a culture in workplaces now where we know that WorkSafe is there. We know if people see things that are unsafe they are inclined to talk to their unions, their bosses. They are inclined to, if they need to, call WorkSafe and notify them of things going wrong.   I remember back in 1991 I did a summer in a warehouse running cables locally. It was just a summer job and we earned bit of money, but we had a lot of very large cables in this warehouse and by the end of the summer I was driving a forklift around. I did not have a forklift licence. I do not think anyone in the store had a forklift licence. Now, I would hope that that sort of thing no longer happens. I hope the statute of limitations has run out on not having a fork lift licence too, by the way, because I have just owned up to that one. But those things used to happen everywhere. You know, if you got a job as a young person, you would go there and the bosses—and they were good bosses; it was a good place to work—would say, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll be right. You’ll be fine. No worries, mate. There you go’. We have seen what happens when it is not fine. We have seen what happens when it goes wrong. Now, luckily nothing went wrong then and no-one got hurt. I think we all understand that when you set off to work in the morning and you kiss your family goodbye there is an expectation that everybody should be able to come home, and if something goes wrong in that process then it is fair and right that there be some form of compensation.   Workers comp has been around for ages, but the problem if we go back to 1985—I was very young—but my memories are it was just private insurance companies you were dealing with. I do not think all insurance companies are evil. I do not think they are all good. I think they are companies. They do not have a soul; they are just companies. They are there for profit and they are there to do their job, and corporate structures just have processes. Like the member for Frankston mentioned before about some of the emails going backwards and forwards, a few guys get a bit too excited that they have kept the KPIs down for the month and then people get hurt and, again as the member for Frankston said, if you do not actually know the person that you are talking about, it may just not gel that they are real people and they have got families and they are out of work. And as others have said, they want to get back to work. So that process, when an insurance company just does what it does and extends it and extends it—every day that is making one person, one family, one extended family and one community worse off.   So a bill like this enables a process for us to speed that up to make it fairer, and we have very, very talented mediators and arbitrators in this state. I have had conversations with some of those people around meeting rooms at the Victorian Bar, and they are very serious about alternative dispute resolution. It is a really good process, it works a lot of the time and it saves us all. It not only saves time and money for the people who in this case are injured but it also saves time and money for the other side. It will save time and money for the insurance companies because you get together and you work it out. So I think we are doing some very important work here. It continues six, seven and, I think, many more years of very important work that the Andrews Labor government has been doing, and I commend this bill to the house.

MEMBERS STATEMENT – ONLINE GAMING REGULATION

  https://youtu.be/Brxaw-ZnSgs Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (09:45): I rise to highlight a little-known aspect of gaming—computer gaming, that is. Loot boxes, as they are called, are a collection of virtual items which may or may not assist with gameplay for players. Some games like FIFA, for example, offer loot boxes which will directly have effects on your gaming ability in online play with your peers. Other games like, say, Overwatch have loot boxes which offer cosmetic advantages. Either way this increases your standing as a gamer among your peers. My concern with loot boxes is the random nature of rewards and the ability of children at any age now to basically spin the wheel by paying real-world dollars. In my opinion this is effectively gambling.   Loot boxes offer a gamer random rewards or rewards that are of differing values. In most games you can purchase them over and over again if you have the money. I believe that we should be raising awareness with parents about the potential activities of their kids. Over a dozen industrialised countries around the world are hastily investigating regulating loot boxes, but so far this country is not. The Netherlands and Belgium have banned them entirely because of their gambling-like design. Here in Australia the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee of the commonwealth Parliament as recently as 2018 conducted an inquiry into the extent to which gaming and microtransactions for chance-based items may be harmful, but at this stage they are relying on classifications. These games are still G-rated. In only the last few weeks FIFA have introduced self-regulation. It is not enough.

MEMBERS STATEMENT – ONLINE GAMING REGULATION

  https://youtu.be/Brxaw-ZnSgs Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (09:45): I rise to highlight a little-known aspect of gaming—computer gaming, that is. Loot boxes, as they are called, are a collection of virtual items which may or may not assist with gameplay for players. Some games like FIFA, for example, offer loot boxes which will directly have effects on your gaming ability in online play with your peers. Other games like, say, Overwatch have loot boxes which offer cosmetic advantages. Either way this increases your standing as a gamer among your peers. My concern with loot boxes is the random nature of rewards and the ability of children at any age now to basically spin the wheel by paying real-world dollars. In my opinion this is effectively gambling.   Loot boxes offer a gamer random rewards or rewards that are of differing values. In most games you can purchase them over and over again if you have the money. I believe that we should be raising awareness with parents about the potential activities of their kids. Over a dozen industrialised countries around the world are hastily investigating regulating loot boxes, but so far this country is not. The Netherlands and Belgium have banned them entirely because of their gambling-like design. Here in Australia the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee of the commonwealth Parliament as recently as 2018 conducted an inquiry into the extent to which gaming and microtransactions for chance-based items may be harmful, but at this stage they are relying on classifications. These games are still G-rated. In only the last few weeks FIFA have introduced self-regulation. It is not enough.

 

16th March 2021 INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2021

[embed]https://youtu.be/J1zORXLQRPQ[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (15:39:339:): I rise to also put forward my contribution on the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill 2021, and I thank the Treasurer in his capacity as the Minister for Industrial Relations for bringing this bill before us because it does go to our constant effort to protect the rights and the ability of every worker to just get treated fairly. It is a fairly simple concept but something that we continue to work on, and this bill, although rather technical in nature, definitely contributes to that.   This year, obviously with the pandemic over the last 12 months, has shone a bright light, as my colleagues have stated, on some of the cracks in our industrial relations frameworks—just the fact that more often being in insecure work, especially over the last 12 months, gives people rise to make choices about whether they will potentially turn up to work sick in order to put food on the table or potentially stay home and benefit others. That is a very difficult choice for a lot of Victorians.   This government, however, will continue to lead the way in developing initiatives to protect workers. This bill will allow us to continue to grow and strengthen our industrial sector, supporting a strong economic recovery. We are at the beginnings of it, but I think the signs early on are very good. It just shows the strength and the dedication from the Premier and the whole government. Our jobs plan, which was announced in 2020–21, does show just that, ensuring not only a job but certainty and security for Victorians and families.   We are talking about labour hire in this bill and strengthening some of the protections for workers, but I just want to add in my own experiences from labour hire. Over the years I have had experiences on both sides of that equation. Early in my career in IT I did a lot of contract work. You would go through personnel companies—labour hire companies, effectively—and work three months here, three months there. That is why I wanted to do it; for me it was a way of doing a bit of that and doing a bit of music. I thought I was going to be a rockstar. Obviously that did not work out. That is probably a good thing for everyone. But it was good work, and for me it was okay. I could get the work; that was good. Those opportunities are still available.   When I was running my own business I had limited-time projects. We would get a project with a client; it would be a three-month or a six-month project. You would have a bit of work, and given the nature of a very small IT firm you would find someone to fill that gap. You would use them for as long as you could, and you would pay them the appropriate rates and give them work. Everyone wins—at least that was the plan. I and my business partner made the decision over the last number of years that when we needed to use contracted labour or labour hire we would try to get some graduates who otherwise had not got a leg up. Over the last couple of years—before I was here, obviously—I think there were two particular workers who come to mind that we employed. Both of these guys had been out of work since uni for about 12 to 18 months. They just could not get that first foot in the door. They worked with us for about three to six months on different occasions; both of them got a job. So labour hire can work for people, but obviously both of these young people wanted secure work. They wanted permanent work. That should be a no-brainer.   A bill like this, strengthening protections for labour hire, is very timely in a year when insecure work has had that shining light on it. I note also in today’s news that there has been a decision by HungryPanda, one of the gig tech companies. Two drivers who took it to HungryPanda have won their jobs back after being treated unfairly. They struck a deal with the company. So that is good news that we have gig tech companies coming to the party, but it is only a start.   What concerns me—I will give you a hypothetical. Obviously with a tech background I can imagine the uses of the internet. We all know Uber and other companies who provide mostly transport at this time. And just on the HungryPanda thing, a big shout-out to Transport Workers Union Australia, Michael Kaine and the team there and also to TWU Victoria, John Berger and his whole team, who are doing a lot of work for our drivers. But I also want to say to everyone else in every other industry: if you can get accreditation for your work—whether that be a certificate III, a diploma or in-house skills—get something that says you are accredited for this. We already know labour hire companies now will shuffle people in and out in security, hospitality and a whole heap of industries. I think with the work that this government is doing we are trying to rein that in so that the dodgy operators are prevented from doing that. That work will continue—I have no doubts.   But think of it this way: the gig tech companies currently take a driver and make them an entrepreneur. Some of them might do well, but some of them do not, and there is a lack of protection there. I just ask you to consider: what if the next Uber or Deliveroo—whatever they are—is shop assistants at supermarkets? What if the next one is nurses? What if the next one is waitstaff or security guards? I would say to the labour hire companies, especially the good ones—and I have dealt with good ones; they are out there and they are probably the majority—be aware, be on our side. If we protect workers and we make this industry work and it is a win-win all round, then this is a good thing. If we let this go rampant—and I am concerned about the federal industrial relations laws that are being debated at the moment—it will not just be logistics and transport where everyone is turned into an entrepreneur; it will be everyone else, and the middle people will be taken out of it because the big tech, the big corporations, can make more money that way.   Now, I have got no problem with people making money—I am all for businesses being profitable—but we have got to add to society. Businesses have to have that social construct, that social agreement, with all of us. We all have a duty—that is employees, employers, big corporates, small businesses—to add to our society. I am concerned—and I do not think I am alone—with the way our gig economy is being exploited. As I said, lots of people in the creative industries were back in the day, and still now are, used to gigs. They are used to turning up, getting a little bit of money and not knowing where the next job is going to be. A lot of creative people just accept it. Now we are seeing that transport is another industry where that is at danger of being accepted. I commend the work that the TWU is doing to prevent that from happening. I commend the work that this government and the Treasurer are doing to prevent that from happening. I will stand with them, as I know all of my colleagues on this side will, to protect every worker in this state. That is why I commend this bill to the house.

16th March 2021 INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2021

[embed]https://youtu.be/J1zORXLQRPQ[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (15:39:339:): I rise to also put forward my contribution on the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill 2021, and I thank the Treasurer in his capacity as the Minister for Industrial Relations for bringing this bill before us because it does go to our constant effort to protect the rights and the ability of every worker to just get treated fairly. It is a fairly simple concept but something that we continue to work on, and this bill, although rather technical in nature, definitely contributes to that.   This year, obviously with the pandemic over the last 12 months, has shone a bright light, as my colleagues have stated, on some of the cracks in our industrial relations frameworks—just the fact that more often being in insecure work, especially over the last 12 months, gives people rise to make choices about whether they will potentially turn up to work sick in order to put food on the table or potentially stay home and benefit others. That is a very difficult choice for a lot of Victorians.   This government, however, will continue to lead the way in developing initiatives to protect workers. This bill will allow us to continue to grow and strengthen our industrial sector, supporting a strong economic recovery. We are at the beginnings of it, but I think the signs early on are very good. It just shows the strength and the dedication from the Premier and the whole government. Our jobs plan, which was announced in 2020–21, does show just that, ensuring not only a job but certainty and security for Victorians and families.   We are talking about labour hire in this bill and strengthening some of the protections for workers, but I just want to add in my own experiences from labour hire. Over the years I have had experiences on both sides of that equation. Early in my career in IT I did a lot of contract work. You would go through personnel companies—labour hire companies, effectively—and work three months here, three months there. That is why I wanted to do it; for me it was a way of doing a bit of that and doing a bit of music. I thought I was going to be a rockstar. Obviously that did not work out. That is probably a good thing for everyone. But it was good work, and for me it was okay. I could get the work; that was good. Those opportunities are still available.   When I was running my own business I had limited-time projects. We would get a project with a client; it would be a three-month or a six-month project. You would have a bit of work, and given the nature of a very small IT firm you would find someone to fill that gap. You would use them for as long as you could, and you would pay them the appropriate rates and give them work. Everyone wins—at least that was the plan. I and my business partner made the decision over the last number of years that when we needed to use contracted labour or labour hire we would try to get some graduates who otherwise had not got a leg up. Over the last couple of years—before I was here, obviously—I think there were two particular workers who come to mind that we employed. Both of these guys had been out of work since uni for about 12 to 18 months. They just could not get that first foot in the door. They worked with us for about three to six months on different occasions; both of them got a job. So labour hire can work for people, but obviously both of these young people wanted secure work. They wanted permanent work. That should be a no-brainer.   A bill like this, strengthening protections for labour hire, is very timely in a year when insecure work has had that shining light on it. I note also in today’s news that there has been a decision by HungryPanda, one of the gig tech companies. Two drivers who took it to HungryPanda have won their jobs back after being treated unfairly. They struck a deal with the company. So that is good news that we have gig tech companies coming to the party, but it is only a start.   What concerns me—I will give you a hypothetical. Obviously with a tech background I can imagine the uses of the internet. We all know Uber and other companies who provide mostly transport at this time. And just on the HungryPanda thing, a big shout-out to Transport Workers Union Australia, Michael Kaine and the team there and also to TWU Victoria, John Berger and his whole team, who are doing a lot of work for our drivers. But I also want to say to everyone else in every other industry: if you can get accreditation for your work—whether that be a certificate III, a diploma or in-house skills—get something that says you are accredited for this. We already know labour hire companies now will shuffle people in and out in security, hospitality and a whole heap of industries. I think with the work that this government is doing we are trying to rein that in so that the dodgy operators are prevented from doing that. That work will continue—I have no doubts.   But think of it this way: the gig tech companies currently take a driver and make them an entrepreneur. Some of them might do well, but some of them do not, and there is a lack of protection there. I just ask you to consider: what if the next Uber or Deliveroo—whatever they are—is shop assistants at supermarkets? What if the next one is nurses? What if the next one is waitstaff or security guards? I would say to the labour hire companies, especially the good ones—and I have dealt with good ones; they are out there and they are probably the majority—be aware, be on our side. If we protect workers and we make this industry work and it is a win-win all round, then this is a good thing. If we let this go rampant—and I am concerned about the federal industrial relations laws that are being debated at the moment—it will not just be logistics and transport where everyone is turned into an entrepreneur; it will be everyone else, and the middle people will be taken out of it because the big tech, the big corporations, can make more money that way.   Now, I have got no problem with people making money—I am all for businesses being profitable—but we have got to add to society. Businesses have to have that social construct, that social agreement, with all of us. We all have a duty—that is employees, employers, big corporates, small businesses—to add to our society. I am concerned—and I do not think I am alone—with the way our gig economy is being exploited. As I said, lots of people in the creative industries were back in the day, and still now are, used to gigs. They are used to turning up, getting a little bit of money and not knowing where the next job is going to be. A lot of creative people just accept it. Now we are seeing that transport is another industry where that is at danger of being accepted. I commend the work that the TWU is doing to prevent that from happening. I commend the work that this government and the Treasurer are doing to prevent that from happening. I will stand with them, as I know all of my colleagues on this side will, to protect every worker in this state. That is why I commend this bill to the house.

ADJOURNMENT – ROYAL COMMISSION INTO VICTORIA’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM

https://youtu.be/Mxw14Ssk5W4 Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:29):  My adjournment matter this evening is for the Deputy Premier in his capacity as the Minister for Mental Health, and I ask him to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government will be assisting people in the Mount Waverley district with acute mental health needs. The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has told us what we need to do to fix our broken system. We have said that we will adopt every recommendation, and we will, and I have spoken before about my own lived experience and my family’s experience. Today I am going to give the tiniest insight into the day-to-day struggle of one of my constituents and her family. The following is a very small part of a very important contribution provided to the royal commission, one of more than 12 500. This goes to the background of Thea’s illness, and I warn the house that the following involves the mention of suicide: … she struggles to access treatment and regularly runs away (at least once per week on average and more often recently) from home and treatment centres and attempts suicide. This generally involves breaking windows and climbing the fence when escaping from home. Police and ambulance are called as a result. Further on the submission states: Over the past four years, Thea has been hospitalised more than 50 times for suicide attempts. Thea’s suicide attempts have included many different methods and means. For example, we have to keep all of the cupboards in our house locked up because of Thea’s attempts to take overdoses of various medicines. Now, Thea’s father was present at the Royal Exhibition Building on Tuesday. He was there to hear every word that was said. Thea and her family are relying on us. Now it is up to us in this house to work together to put into place every recommendation in the report. I look forward to the minister’s response, and I also will do everything I can to make life easier for Thea, her family and every other family who struggles daily with mental illness.

ADJOURNMENT – ROYAL COMMISSION INTO VICTORIA’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM

https://youtu.be/Mxw14Ssk5W4 Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:29):  My adjournment matter this evening is for the Deputy Premier in his capacity as the Minister for Mental Health, and I ask him to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government will be assisting people in the Mount Waverley district with acute mental health needs. The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has told us what we need to do to fix our broken system. We have said that we will adopt every recommendation, and we will, and I have spoken before about my own lived experience and my family’s experience. Today I am going to give the tiniest insight into the day-to-day struggle of one of my constituents and her family. The following is a very small part of a very important contribution provided to the royal commission, one of more than 12 500. This goes to the background of Thea’s illness, and I warn the house that the following involves the mention of suicide: … she struggles to access treatment and regularly runs away (at least once per week on average and more often recently) from home and treatment centres and attempts suicide. This generally involves breaking windows and climbing the fence when escaping from home. Police and ambulance are called as a result. Further on the submission states: Over the past four years, Thea has been hospitalised more than 50 times for suicide attempts. Thea’s suicide attempts have included many different methods and means. For example, we have to keep all of the cupboards in our house locked up because of Thea’s attempts to take overdoses of various medicines. Now, Thea’s father was present at the Royal Exhibition Building on Tuesday. He was there to hear every word that was said. Thea and her family are relying on us. Now it is up to us in this house to work together to put into place every recommendation in the report. I look forward to the minister’s response, and I also will do everything I can to make life easier for Thea, her family and every other family who struggles daily with mental illness.

MEMBERS STATEMENT – ROYAL COMMISSION INTO VICTORIA’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM

https://youtu.be/CJMsucLLB-M Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (16:03): Today is a very important day for all Victorians. I was heartened to hear from the member for Benambra that we should not confuse the debate with partisanship. I welcome the debate. I welcome the bipartisanship and hope that that is what we see. In my first speech in this house I talked about my aunty who lived with schizophrenia and was bipolar. As part of her extended family I did not live with that every day. My mother used to visit my aunty every day for years, and her direct family lived with that every day. It was something that at least taught me that mental health is normal, whether it be good or ill or otherwise. It is normal to need help. So hearing today about the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System report and knowing that we will take up every recommendation—I encourage the opposition to do the same—is important to not only my extended family but every family. Because in every family there is an Aunty Barb. In every family there is my friend Paul, who is no longer with us. In Dad’s shop I learned how to say, ‘How can I help?’, but now we know.

MEMBERS STATEMENT – ROYAL COMMISSION INTO VICTORIA’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM

https://youtu.be/CJMsucLLB-M Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (16:03): Today is a very important day for all Victorians. I was heartened to hear from the member for Benambra that we should not confuse the debate with partisanship. I welcome the debate. I welcome the bipartisanship and hope that that is what we see. In my first speech in this house I talked about my aunty who lived with schizophrenia and was bipolar. As part of her extended family I did not live with that every day. My mother used to visit my aunty every day for years, and her direct family lived with that every day. It was something that at least taught me that mental health is normal, whether it be good or ill or otherwise. It is normal to need help. So hearing today about the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System report and knowing that we will take up every recommendation—I encourage the opposition to do the same—is important to not only my extended family but every family. Because in every family there is an Aunty Barb. In every family there is my friend Paul, who is no longer with us. In Dad’s shop I learned how to say, ‘How can I help?’, but now we know.

PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELLBEING AMENDMENT (STATE OF EMERGENCY EXTENSION) BILL 2021

https://youtu.be/dUsquW5X1MM Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:10): I will just note the member for Rowville’s question: when is the next lockdown? Good question. There is no accurate answer to that, but I think if we are really honest with ourselves what we can all say is that there will be another outbreak somewhere, and it may be Victoria, it may be New South Wales, it may be Queensland or WA, or it may be New Zealand or Taiwan or Singapore or any of the other countries that are lucky enough to not be swamped by what is a global pandemic. Almost a year ago I remember someone explaining to me what the definition of ‘pandemic’ was. About a quarter of the world’s population are likely to get the disease in a pandemic if presumably vaccines and things are not available. We are not there yet, thankfully, but with the numbers in the UK and the US and elsewhere it is certainly heading there. When you include India, Africa—the places in the world that might not get vaccines as quickly as we do—the prospects for some of those poor people are not good. We have had our share, and the opposition are entitled to argue from their point of view that things should have been better. I think we would all agree that the things that we have learned, if we had known them then, we might have done them better.   There has been talk about the numbers of people that have very tragically lost their lives. When we go back to April last year the consensus Australia-wide from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee was still that masks were not necessary. It is not necessarily what I saw in Glen Waverley from the Chinese Australians, because among people with family and friends who had lived in China through the SARS outbreak, the moment this disease came through, on went the masks. In hindsight they were right. But you have got to trust the evidence and the experience of the people who we trust to be our experts. You might disagree with them. Others might disagree with them. There will be countering views within those expert bodies—not every person will agree 100 per cent. But we need to take the consensus because without it, it is chaos. Different states have had different readings, and we still have national cabinet and the AHPPC that are bringing them together.   On our last lockdown of five days the Prime Minister said:   We’ve dealt with these (outbreaks) before, got on top of them before, in the last few weeks in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.   He also said:   A proportionate response by the Victorian Government … that enabled the contact tracers and others to be able to get on top of it and get the same successful result we’ve seen in other states …   They are not my words, they are the Prime Minister of Australia’s.   The main objective of this bill today is to extend the state of emergency. I accept that the opposition happily, at the premise of their statements, accept that a four-week extension is necessary. So we are not even really arguing that we should not extend it at all; we are arguing about how long. They concede it needs to be extended, so for how long? Let us think about that. The state of emergency as we stand gets renewed every four weeks. I think we all know that in this house. The chief health officer gives his advice, tables the reasoning and the advice, and it gets extended for another four weeks. So in essence if the opposition are happy to extend it for four weeks, that is what we are doing. And then the extension of the maximum time limit allows us to do that again. Now, yes, we could legislate every tiny little detail about what the CHO—the chief health officer—recommends. We could come back again and again and again. We could have the legal boffins draw up all the legislation in the world and we could argue it in this house, and I would be more than happy to do that, except—delay, delay, delay. When you consider the things that we have learned in the last 12 months and you consider that you want to get all those people working to legislate, to brief—do all this stuff—on something that might change twice in two weeks, I caution the opposition and the rhetoric incoming that those delays could be fatal for people.   During the course of the lockdown obviously aged care was a massive problem. Now, I am not going to lay into our federal colleagues, just like I am not laying into any one of us who has worked their tail off to try and protect Australian and Victorian citizens. But what I will say is that there was an aged-care home—and I will not name it, because it is not their fault—in my area that in one week had no cases, the next week had 35 cases and the week after had 43 cases. It was contained around that point, but we lost five people’s lives. If we knew everything 12 months ago, would it have been better? Maybe. But I say to you again: there will be more outbreaks—here, there, anywhere—because no system of containment is perfect. We do everything we can to approach the perfect and we learn, and we come back and we make it better and we make it better. I was speaking to a local GP in my area last week, who was saying, ‘Matt, we really need to do something about single-level quarantining away from hotels’. I agreed with him, and I was delighted to hear that is exactly what we are doing. But, again, 12 months ago almost, in March, the states all got together with national cabinet and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee agreeing and all the state CHOs agreeing that hotel quarantine was the way to go. They all agreed.   I would think we have learned that, yes, we have all done a pretty good job. When it gets out, it is not good. And when it got out last year, by the time we realised where it was, it was really not good. I think since then, when you look at the Black Rock cluster, when you look at the speed of our contact tracers, the efforts this government has made to close the gaps—I am not going to talk about standards of whichever metal you want to choose, but every state is doing everything they can and every state has had outbreaks. You can quibble about, ‘Well, all of Victoria was shut down. Only the northern beaches were shut down’. And I can quibble about, ‘Well, there’s a spit access there, and then it did expand to Greater Sydney’. And you can make other quibbles, and we can argue all the finer details. And that is what this place is for. So that is fine. That is our job—to talk about the details.   At the end of the day we have shown that our contact tracers are up to it. Yes, we locked down for five days in a snap lockdown, just like South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland have done. Others say, ‘Well, yes, why did you lock down Mildura?’. I heard that from one of the members opposite. The outbreak was potentially at an airport, where people go everywhere. The contact tracers needed time, and we gave them that time, and it was hard—and for some people it was very, very hard. This is not over. It is a lot better than many other places and we want to keep it that way—and this bill does exactly the work to help us do that.

PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELLBEING AMENDMENT (STATE OF EMERGENCY EXTENSION) BILL 2021

https://youtu.be/dUsquW5X1MM Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:10): I will just note the member for Rowville’s question: when is the next lockdown? Good question. There is no accurate answer to that, but I think if we are really honest with ourselves what we can all say is that there will be another outbreak somewhere, and it may be Victoria, it may be New South Wales, it may be Queensland or WA, or it may be New Zealand or Taiwan or Singapore or any of the other countries that are lucky enough to not be swamped by what is a global pandemic. Almost a year ago I remember someone explaining to me what the definition of ‘pandemic’ was. About a quarter of the world’s population are likely to get the disease in a pandemic if presumably vaccines and things are not available. We are not there yet, thankfully, but with the numbers in the UK and the US and elsewhere it is certainly heading there. When you include India, Africa—the places in the world that might not get vaccines as quickly as we do—the prospects for some of those poor people are not good. We have had our share, and the opposition are entitled to argue from their point of view that things should have been better. I think we would all agree that the things that we have learned, if we had known them then, we might have done them better.   There has been talk about the numbers of people that have very tragically lost their lives. When we go back to April last year the consensus Australia-wide from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee was still that masks were not necessary. It is not necessarily what I saw in Glen Waverley from the Chinese Australians, because among people with family and friends who had lived in China through the SARS outbreak, the moment this disease came through, on went the masks. In hindsight they were right. But you have got to trust the evidence and the experience of the people who we trust to be our experts. You might disagree with them. Others might disagree with them. There will be countering views within those expert bodies—not every person will agree 100 per cent. But we need to take the consensus because without it, it is chaos. Different states have had different readings, and we still have national cabinet and the AHPPC that are bringing them together.   On our last lockdown of five days the Prime Minister said:   We’ve dealt with these (outbreaks) before, got on top of them before, in the last few weeks in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.   He also said:   A proportionate response by the Victorian Government … that enabled the contact tracers and others to be able to get on top of it and get the same successful result we’ve seen in other states …   They are not my words, they are the Prime Minister of Australia’s.   The main objective of this bill today is to extend the state of emergency. I accept that the opposition happily, at the premise of their statements, accept that a four-week extension is necessary. So we are not even really arguing that we should not extend it at all; we are arguing about how long. They concede it needs to be extended, so for how long? Let us think about that. The state of emergency as we stand gets renewed every four weeks. I think we all know that in this house. The chief health officer gives his advice, tables the reasoning and the advice, and it gets extended for another four weeks. So in essence if the opposition are happy to extend it for four weeks, that is what we are doing. And then the extension of the maximum time limit allows us to do that again. Now, yes, we could legislate every tiny little detail about what the CHO—the chief health officer—recommends. We could come back again and again and again. We could have the legal boffins draw up all the legislation in the world and we could argue it in this house, and I would be more than happy to do that, except—delay, delay, delay. When you consider the things that we have learned in the last 12 months and you consider that you want to get all those people working to legislate, to brief—do all this stuff—on something that might change twice in two weeks, I caution the opposition and the rhetoric incoming that those delays could be fatal for people.   During the course of the lockdown obviously aged care was a massive problem. Now, I am not going to lay into our federal colleagues, just like I am not laying into any one of us who has worked their tail off to try and protect Australian and Victorian citizens. But what I will say is that there was an aged-care home—and I will not name it, because it is not their fault—in my area that in one week had no cases, the next week had 35 cases and the week after had 43 cases. It was contained around that point, but we lost five people’s lives. If we knew everything 12 months ago, would it have been better? Maybe. But I say to you again: there will be more outbreaks—here, there, anywhere—because no system of containment is perfect. We do everything we can to approach the perfect and we learn, and we come back and we make it better and we make it better. I was speaking to a local GP in my area last week, who was saying, ‘Matt, we really need to do something about single-level quarantining away from hotels’. I agreed with him, and I was delighted to hear that is exactly what we are doing. But, again, 12 months ago almost, in March, the states all got together with national cabinet and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee agreeing and all the state CHOs agreeing that hotel quarantine was the way to go. They all agreed.   I would think we have learned that, yes, we have all done a pretty good job. When it gets out, it is not good. And when it got out last year, by the time we realised where it was, it was really not good. I think since then, when you look at the Black Rock cluster, when you look at the speed of our contact tracers, the efforts this government has made to close the gaps—I am not going to talk about standards of whichever metal you want to choose, but every state is doing everything they can and every state has had outbreaks. You can quibble about, ‘Well, all of Victoria was shut down. Only the northern beaches were shut down’. And I can quibble about, ‘Well, there’s a spit access there, and then it did expand to Greater Sydney’. And you can make other quibbles, and we can argue all the finer details. And that is what this place is for. So that is fine. That is our job—to talk about the details.   At the end of the day we have shown that our contact tracers are up to it. Yes, we locked down for five days in a snap lockdown, just like South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland have done. Others say, ‘Well, yes, why did you lock down Mildura?’. I heard that from one of the members opposite. The outbreak was potentially at an airport, where people go everywhere. The contact tracers needed time, and we gave them that time, and it was hard—and for some people it was very, very hard. This is not over. It is a lot better than many other places and we want to keep it that way—and this bill does exactly the work to help us do that.