Thursday, 3 June 2010
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. What job transition and employment assistance arrangements will be offered to mining industry workers who lose their jobs as a result of the government’s great big new tax on mining, including the 60 contractors who have lost their jobs today as a result of Xstrata’s decision to suspend the expansion of its Ernest Henry copper mine near Cloncurry in Queensland?
I thank the member for Stirling for his question. I would say to him that, a little like the question earlier from the Leader of the Opposition, for those opposite to now have an interest in (a) jobs and (b) workers rights is very interesting indeed. Firstly, on the question of jobs, I would say to the member for Stirling he should have a long, long hard look at the impact of the government’s stimulus strategy on employment in the state of Western Australia. Look at the impact of investments that we are making in the infrastructure of Western Australia in the Ord, prospectively at Oakajee, in the middle of Perth—hospital constructions as well as road constructions, notwithstanding the investment in social housing. There are investments also in the Building the Education Revolution program in Western Australia and the community infrastructure program in Western Australia. These are core contributors to jobs growth in the state of Western Australia. If he looked at the breakdown of the state accounts, and the contributing elements to gross state product within his state, he would reach the same conclusion.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the Prime Minister was asked about the employment assistance arrangements for the 60 workers at Cloncurry. We would hope he would answer that specifically.
The member’s question went to both jobs and workers’ entitlements. On the question of jobs, my response to him, being a member from the west, was along the lines I have just described. Those comments equally apply to the impact of the government’s measures on stimulus payments in the state of Queensland. I suggest that he also looks at the impact through the most recently released gross state product figures for Queensland and other states to conclude where the actual contribution lies from federal government stimulus investments. The Minister for Finance and Deregulation has just referred to that in the case of the state of Victoria and made appropriate reference to statements recently by the Liberal shadow Treasurer of Victoria to that effect.
Secondly, on the question of workers’ entitlements, I would say this to the member for Stirling, as he cries crocodile tears about workers’ entitlements and workers’ rights: workers’ entitlements and workers’ rights are infinitely better as a result of this government’s change to the laws than existed under the government of which he was part. We had also under this government, through the abolition of Work Choices, made sure that basic conditions for working people and working families were protected, not destroyed—not least of which was protection from unfair dismissal.
Those opposite stand for the repeal of the government’s protections against unfair dismissal. We stand for the protection of workers from unfair dismissal and we also apply the standard support measures for any worker in this economy who finds themselves unemployed for whatever reasons. This government’s policies in support of jobs and in support of measures relating to the conditions of workers and, on top of that, protection from unfair dismissal exists in a legion above and beyond anything ever considered or supported by those opposite when they occupied the Treasury bench.