The ACTU welcomes the opportunity to comment on the draft Risk Management Program (RMP) rules for the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act (SOCI Act). In making this submission, the ACTU reiterates many of the concerns we outlined in our submissions and evidence given to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) inquiries into the Security of Critical Infrastructure Bills in 2021 and 2022. The ACTU also supports and reiterates the submission by the Electrical Trades Union of Australia (ETU) to this inquiry.
The ACTU remains concerned that the application of the SOCI Act through the draft RMP rules would unreasonably infringe on workers’ rights to privacy, workers fundamental industrial rights, and potentially unreasonably exclude workers from their chosen jobs or even careers. The concerns that the ACTU and the union movement outlined when making previous submissions to the Bill largely stand in the draft rules, that:
• The rules could subject millions of workers to unreasonable, invasive and unwarranted background checks, violating their right to privacy,
• The rules could be leveraged and interpreted to deny workers their fundamental labour rights, including the right to a safe workplace, the right to organise, and the right to representation, and,
• That workers do not need to be consulted on the workplace implementation of these rules which could be inconsistently interpreted across industries.
The scope of the law, and scope of the application of the rules warrant more fundamental protection for workers in primary legislation and industry-based consultation of the application of the rules.
In this submission the ACTU will recommend the following changes to the draft RMP rules and the SOCI Act.
• Recommendation 1: Legislate clearer key definitions,
• Recommendation 2: Implement Industry-based Risk Management Program Guidelines
• Recommendation 3: Introduce Consultation Obligations
• Recommendation 4: Removing Accidents from Material Risk Considerations
• Recommendation 5: Modify the Criminal History Criteria
• Recommendation 7: Clarify AusCheck Eligibility
• Recommendation 6: Ensure the rules do not undermine investment in secure