Monday, 27 March 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on what action the government has taken to secure the future of 250 employees at the Heyfield timber mill? Is the minister aware of any threats to the jobs of hardworking regional Australians?
I thank the honourable member for his question and note the concern that is starting to become ever-escalated in Victoria about the threat to the timber industry and the hardworking men and women in that industry. They want to know who in Canberra is actually going to start standing up for them. I am glad that we are. We are standing up for these working men and women.
I know the concerns that the member for Gippsland has in regard to this, making sure he stands up for these forestry workers. I know the concerns the member for Murray has in standing up for these forestry workers. I know the concerns the member for Mallee has in standing up for these forestry workers. I know the concerns the member for Macmillan has in standing up for these forestry workers. There could be people in other regional seats who could be standing up for these forestry workers. I know it is incredibly important to stand up for these forestry workers.
We have to protect the dignity of these people and make sure they have a job. It is very important that we do not put possums before people. It is very important that we stand up for these people. It is very important that you use your time in this chamber to go in to bat for these people—not hide behind other issues and try to avoid this issue. If you did avoid the issue, you would be avoiding the issue like the CFMEU members here. The member for Shortland has never stood up for these workers. The member for Griffith has got herself on Instagram laughing about the issue, laughing about the forestry workers. That is a shame. You should be standing up for them. The member for Gorton should be supporting his brother in standing up for these forestry workers.
It is an issue that the Victorian government could fix. If it was not chasing Leadbetter's possums and votes in St Kilda, it might actually stand up for some of these forestry workers. It might actually stand up for these people. We know that these people who are working are probably some of the people who are doing it toughest. They are probably some of the poorer people in our community with unskilled jobs, jobs in the forests, that have been supporting their families.
It is a shame when the Labor Party no longer represent labourers. It is a shame the Labor Party have given up on labourers, given up on workers. Not once has anybody from the Labor Party come to the dispatch box to try to defend the jobs of working men and women in the forestry industry, an industry that supports 21,000 people. It is in relation to this forestry industry that today we have a call from the Gippsland mayors for immediate action to avert a community catastrophe at Heyfield. It goes on the backburner, because they are true to form. They are not standing up for the workers at Hazelwood either. All of a sudden, the workers at Hazelwood, the workers at Heyfield, are having to rely on other people to stand up for their jobs. These are blue-collar workers who, in the past, would have thought that the Labor Party would go in to bat for them. But they are not. The Labor Party are going in to bat for the Australian Greens. They are going in to bat for people in the corner of the chamber over there who do not want to stand up— (Time expired)