Thursday, 6 June 2013
Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013; Consideration in Detail
by leave—I move opposition amendments (1) to (3) of sheet 2 together:
(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 7), omit the table item.
(2) Schedule 4, page 20 (line 1) to page 28 (line 29), omit the Schedule.
(3) Schedule 7, item 1, page 34 (lines 14 to 29), omit Part 5.
I will speak briefly about the amendments, but what is more interesting and important in the case of these amendments is the process. The government and the opposition struck an agreement to remove the expanded right-of-entry provisions from the Fair Work Amendment Bill yesterday. That agreement was still in place when we all woke up this morning and, as far as I know, it was in place at lunchtime today. But in a hasty scramble, only an hour before question time, the government informed us that in fact the very amendments that they were about to move, to take the right-of-entry provisions out of this bill, were not going to be moved, and that the bill as originally circulated by the government was going to stand.
So the government's own amendments were pulled at the last minute. Why could that be? Who benefits from union right of entry, or should I say expanded right of entry? Unions, of course. What dirty deal must have been done? What insistence was there that more money be allocated to the union coffers in this last few hours before these right-of-entry provisions hit the table to make this minister and this government scramble away from them and give in to the union bosses that hold them to ransom?
We have referred to the Prime Minister's promise of no expanded right of entry. Right-of-entry provisions in this country today are very strong. They are very firm. They allow unions way too much, and we have said that we will draw them back. Only today I heard of an example of a childcare centre in Queensland where the union, United Voice, desperate to sign up new members, barged into the lunch room, looked at the sign-on sheet and said: 'We haven't met these members of staff. Who are they? Where are they? Why can't they come in? Why can't we sign them up to the union?'
What we are moving with these amendments is to take out the right-of-entry provisions that the government had agreed with us to do. We are concerned about joy-rides and lunch room invasions; the default provisions in this bill say that the union can choose the lunch room as the default meeting place. Only 13 per cent of Australian workers belong to unions; the other 87 per cent have to have their lunchtime and their quiet time interrupted in this manner.
I strongly commend these amendments to the House and I look forward to the support of the crossbenchers.