Wednesday, 3 February 2021
Matters of Public Importance
Can I thank the member for Watson, the member for Cowper and the member for Tangney for their contributions to this matter of public importance. It always concerns me deeply that the Labor Party can never seem to get its head out of the donors' trough that they have put it into. They can never seem to put what matters to ordinary workers above that of their mates and their donors in the union movement and in industry super. They have no concern for ordinary Australians. Their only concern has always been for ensuring that unions are first and foremost in our industrial relations system and that the IR club, which has hurt workers for more than a century, is maintained and enhanced.
During the lockdown, because I found it difficult to get to sleep some nights, I took up the task of reading 'Forward with Fairness'. I know those opposite don't like to remember the Gillard-Rudd years, but it was written by Julia Gillard. It envisioned a nation of enterprise agreements, individual contracts and small businesses not under the yolk and the threat of unfair dismissal laws. It imagined an industrial relations system of peace and harmony. So what went wrong? What did we get instead? Under the Fair Work Act we got lower productivity, we got lower wage growth, we got wage theft, we got higher unemployment, we got lower participation and we got workplace violence and bullying. We've seen 28 enterprise agreements certified by the Fair Work Commission since the Fair Work Act, in 10 years, and we've seen no individual contract, at all, certified by the Fair Work Commission.
In other words, this government agrees with everything that the opposition is saying. The difference is: we want to fix it; they want to make sure their mates are looked after. Time's up on this shake-down in the industrial relations system. Maybe the reason that Julia Gillard wasn't able to realise her vision of peaceful Australian industrial relations is that, when the time came to draft the legislation, she gave in to her biggest donors. She made sure that unions had right of entry, which no-one had imagined they could possibly have. Unions have the capacity to walk into workplaces all over this country, even when there isn't a single member of the workforce who's a member of that union! But it's alright. She put in place some safeguards. She said that you first had to be able to get signed off as a fit and proper person to be a union organiser. During the union royal commission, what did we find out? We found out that one organiser at a union had done over 100 of those exams on behalf of union organisers. So appalled were the Labor Party by this misuse and unlawful behaviour, they made that person a senator. Of course, having said that, they also made Kristina Keneally a senator—so, you know! They were ensuring unions have access to agreements where they don't have a single member represented in that workplace.
So what the member for Watson just said was absolutely untrue. He imagined this labour hire company being able to do some sort of inside deal. What he failed to tell the House is that that would have to be certified by the Fair Work Commission. That labour hire company would have to notify every single union that may or may not be able to have coverage of that hire company. So apparently under all of those safeguards, under their act, they'd still be able to get something approved.
This opposition is absolutely pathetic, because it will say and do anything to bring Australians and ordinary workers further under the yoke of union membership, even when they don't want to be members of a union. They get a Fair Work Commission, headed by Ian Ross, a former senior member of the ACTU, inventor of the industry superannuation system, as documented in Bad Egg, written by Senator Andrew Bragg. The BOOT test in Forward with Fairness and under the Fair Work Act is very specific that it is not meant to apply to every single person. But Ian Ross said, 'Because the act doesn't specifically stop me from doing it, I will now apply it to workers who don't even exist, who are hypothetical.' That is how bad the BOOT test has become. (Time expired)