House debates

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Matters of Public Importance

Workplace Relations

4:14 pm

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I guess the shortness of time just confirms that the government's message is that bad they can't even sustain a full period of time. The simple fact is this: the government's industrial relations will lead to cut wages and worse working conditions. Nothing can be more simple than that. That is exactly what is happening with this legislation, and it's happening at a time when we're living through the worst pandemic and, because of the recession caused by this government, we're seeing the toughest economic conditions that we have had to face. We've learnt a whole new definition of what an essential worker is. It is not only our nurses, our doctors, our teachers and our emergency service workers that we are so familiar with but the new breed, the breed we have come to rely on: the truck drivers, the supermarket workers, the delivery based workers and the cleaners. These are the people who have helped keep this country running and have protected our lives during this COVID-19 pandemic.

They serve the people who are scared, anxious and, sometimes, even angry and violent. That reminds me that no-one deserves a serve, and we've seen that with retail workers. They work to help get us through this situation, and we owe them a debt of thanks. But we actually owe them a lot more. What we don't owe them is a pay cut. I find it interesting that those opposite sit there and say that this is Labor and the unions' move to get workers more—they're against workers getting more money. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is this side of the House and it is the union movement that has always fought to get better wages and conditions for workers. You only have to go through every single industrial relations case that has happened in the last 40 years to see that it's not the employers and it is not the Liberal and National parties that are standing up and supporting workers to get better pay and conditions; it is the labour movement. The labour movement, driven by unions and the Labor Party, has supported better working conditions and better pay and conditions for workers across this nation.

You have to sit there—


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