House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021


Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia's Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020; Second Reading

6:55 pm

Photo of Stephen JonesStephen Jones (Whitlam, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

I hear the government minister at the bench saying he agrees. Well, I want more than your words; I want your actions, because the policies that you have introduced in this House not only don't help older workers but make the situation harder for older workers in the workplace. Let's talk, for instance, about your JobMaker plan, which provides subsidies for younger workers but discriminates against older workers. You make it a contest. You've done nothing.

A government member interjecting

Would you like to know another policy? He's got a lot to say but not much to do. Let's make it quite clear. Stand up when my time's done and tell us exactly what you're doing for older workers, because I'll tell you what you're not doing. Older workers take twice as long to get another job, if they can find one. But the ministers over here refer to them as lounge lizards.

A government member interjecting

He said it. Your Minister for Human Services said those very words: 'They're lounge lizards and bludgers.' They can't get a job in the workplace, and your plan to fix this is to bounce them back to $40 a day. That's your plan: twice as long on the unemployment benefit. 'They can afford to live on $40 a day, because they're only going to be unemployed for a short period of time.' Unemployment is north of six per cent. For older workers, one in five—20 per cent—are jobless. And all the government can come up with are hopeless interventions.

Well, we've got a crisis in this country, and it's about time this mob did something about it. It's a silent crisis, involving older workers, and they've got no answers for it. When they do introduce policies they make it worse. They introduce bills into this House which miss the obvious solution to the problems that we have, the big problems—low wages, high casualisation and older workers facing discrimination in a crisis—and the best they can come up with is a Prime Minister that doesn't hold a hose, hopeless policies that make things worse and IR policies which hark back to the last century and don't even solve the problems of this century. If this is the best that this mob can do, then this Prime Minister over here will face the same fate as John Howard and Stanley Melbourne Bruce. Bring it on.


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