Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019; Second Reading
As we come into this place, into this parliament, there's a giant portrait of the first member for Kennedy. I always give Charlie McDonald a salute as I go past. We're still out there, Charlie! We won arbitration in Australia in the 1900s. Prior to the 1900s, with the balance of power, the labour movement had won arbitration in New South Wales and later in Queensland. When we won arbitration, the two employers in Queensland were the sugar mills—they owned all the plantations; it was plantation farming which, sadly, we're going back to again now—and mining. Those were the only two industries we had. We had a little bit of shearing but we were never a big sheep state.
What happened when we got arbitration was that the employers said: 'Oh, we'll bring the coolies in to work the mines and we'll bring the Kanaks in to work the cane fields. So where did that get you, Mr Worker? Ha, ha, ha!' Charlie McDonald, in his first speech to the House, was ranting and raving against people coming in from overseas, undermining our pay and conditions and taking our jobs. The only force in Australia that has been voicing those opinions and who has fought the fight against this submergence of we Australians by the mass import of people from overseas—until Sally McManus came along with the ACTU, pointing out that one in every two new jobs created since 2013 has gone to a temporary visa holder—has been the CFMMEU.
Now, the rightists over here, who secretly squeal and yell about all these people coming to Australia, haven't got the guts to say it publicly but the CFMMEU has. And on the lily pad Left of course the CFMMEU is copping hell because they want all the refugees of the world to come in. The rightists over here don't, but they're not game to open their mouths.
I'll start my contribution to the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019 debate on that note. A lot of people say, 'He's in the CFMMEU?' It's shock and horror. How come I'm in the CFMMEU? I jumped university to make a squillion dollars, which I was proceeding to make by floating my own mining company, when the mining crash came. I ended up labouring in the lead smelter at Mount Isa Mines, the lowest of the low in the sense that if you're good enough they take you out of the smelters and put you underground. But I wasn't good enough. That's where I was.
We had a shaker—and it bears telling the story. I had to jump up on one side of this shaker and hit it with a sledgehammer and then jump off really quickly, because when it started working it was supposed to go backwards and forwards. It would freeze, but when it started working it came at you at 60 miles an hour. So I had to jump off and then jump back on again and hit it. So I'd jump on and hit it and jump off, and then the bloke on the other side would jump on and hit it and jump off. We complained about this and got absolutely nowhere at the safety meetings, so I went to the delegate. This particular incident was after a big strike. All of the delegates were acting foremen, so the union shopfloor delegates weren't going to open their mouths. So I went to the union downtown in Mount Isa. The delegate came the next day, and I saw him up there in the glassed-in control panel, pointing me out to my bosses as a troublemaker. So I got out of that union and joined the CFMEU because I could see that that union was not on my side; that union was on the side of the bosses.
That situation was really dangerous—extremely dangerous. If you stayed on the flue for more than a minute, your boots caught fire. Of course, once the flue started moving, it came at you at 60 miles an hour! You were wielding a big sledgehammer, with big heavy steelcapped work boots, and you had to jump on and off. I was also given a huge hopper full of lead dust. It got stuck, so I had to jump in with an airspear to get the hopper moving again. I kept hitting it with the airspear, and it started to move a little bit. My workmate was killing himself laughing, and I asked, 'What are you laughing for?' He said 'Because when that starts moving, you're going to be buried alive!' He shouldn't have been laughing, but I suppose he was laughing because he had to tell me. I scrambled up and grabbed it. I was supposed to put a belt on with a steel cable so that when it started to move I wouldn't be buried alive in deadly poisonous lead dust.
Those two examples are what is happening at the coalface. It's all right for you little people over here. You've come out of a law school, a law building, somewhere, and those people over there have come out of a university and got a little cushy job with some member of parliament. That's how all the careerists get in here, right? For those of us who live in the real world and have to go into a hopper and nearly get killed and then have to go onto a shaker, and then have the union we have representing us sell us out—