House debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Statements by Members

Workplace Relations

1:57 pm

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Well, well, well, they say history repeats itself and here we are again: history has repeated itself. I thought, like many, Work Choices was dead, buried and cremated but today it's been resurrected. It's been reincarnated by this government. One of the worst parts of Work Choices was the fact that this former government, under John Howard, gave employers the ability to strike agreements that undercut wages and conditions—undercut the award. These agreements, these Work Choice zombie agreements, still exist. It's really hard for employees to get off these agreements. Yet, rather than trying to clean that legacy mess up, this government and this IR minister are bringing it back. They're giving employers two years to rush through agreements that undercut the award. They don't just want people's penalty rates, they don't just want people's breaks, they don't just want people's leave entitlements, they're now going to let people take away base rates. This government is going further than John Howard with Work Choices, using a crisis, using the disguise of COVID-19, to rush through reforms that will just let anything go. If it really was a crisis that lasted two years, then why has this Prime Minister already cut JobKeeper? You can't have it both ways: it's either a crisis giving employers free will, or it's not a crisis and you can cut JobKeeper.


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