House debates

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Member for Perth

3:49 pm

Photo of Stephen SmithStephen Smith (Perth, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations) Share this | Hansard source

Exactly, and that is precisely what I have done. The government and the minister seek to rely exclusively on the so-called letter, which, frankly, does not take them very far. I rely completely on the letter and the AWA. What does the AWA do in respect of the three things that the Prime Minister says I misled the House about in question time yesterday and that the minister relies upon in his motion today? In my question yesterday the things I referred to—all of which are reflected both by the AWA and my comments—are that employees are required to sign an AWA that provides that the payment of bonuses, overtime, loadings, penalties and other allowances is at the sole discretion of the company. Guilty as charged. Case proven. What does 5(c) say? It says:

The Company, at its sole discretion ...

The letter should be read in conjunction with the AWA. What the Prime Minister and the minister seek to do in misleading, firstly, this House and, secondly, the Australian people is cherry pick the two or three things that they believe are advantageous to people on the AWA. Ask yourself this commonsense question: why is the employer absolutely refusing to allow the 20 sparkies at Martin Donnelly to exercise a choice and to choose a collective agreement rather than being forced onto an AWA? Is it because the provisions of the AWA are so fantastically superior to the terms and conditions of the current collective agreement? When you read the AWA—even if you read the AWA in conjunction with the letter on which you completely rely—those bonuses are at the sole discretion of the employer at any time the employer so wants. A multistorey allowance is removed and there is nothing in the letter which restores that. All of this occurs for the three-year life of the agreement.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the minister and the Prime Minister desperately try and pretend to the Australian public—‘These million AWAs, they’re absolutely terrific! They increase your wage and conditions!’—and nowhere will they tell the Australian public that the AWAs invariably drive people down to the so-called five minimum standards. Let us just have a look, as I did earlier, at some of the items of the AWA as compared with the collective agreement that the minister and the Prime Minister absolutely refuse to look at or draw attention to—unlike this document which I sent around to the media yesterday, which shows all the comparisons.

The AWA lasts for three years. In my notes, I say that the AWA is attached to an offer of employment letter. I told the media that and circulated that in my advice to them. The rate of pay for a grade 5A, which is the rate that I have referred to, is $25.31 per hour plus a productivity allowance; under the AWA, it is $30 an hour with no productivity allowance. There are six pay increases under the collective agreement; under the AWA, there is no guaranteed pay increase. Ordinary hours of work are 36 under the collective agreement and 38 under the AWA. Under the collective agreement, there is a tool allowance of $12.50 a week; under the AWA, there is no tool allowance. Under the collective agreement, personal leave is 100 hours per year; under the AWA, 76 hours per year.

The serial misleader here is the Prime Minister, who will do anything or say anything to avoid the adverse consequences of his ideological approach in this area. He knows that his is an attack upon the living standards of working Australians. He knows that his is an attack upon the values, virtues and characteristics of the Australian way of life. He knows that the Australian public is now hunting him, just as on this side of the House we are hunting him. The House should condemn him accordingly for being a serial misleader in this parliament and in public about the adverse consequences of his unfair industrial relations. (Time expired)


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