House debates

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Constituency Statements

Workplace Relations

10:42 am

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

You won't hear too many speeches where I congratulate the CFMEU, but I am going to congratulate them on a legal victory they won last week on behalf of one of their members, a casual worker employed by a labour hire contractor in the Bowen Basin mines. For a long time I have been saying that the practices of major mining houses in putting on these contracted labour hire casual workers as de facto full-time workers is an unethical practice. It clearly is. You can't have someone contracted by a labour hire firm as a casual employee working side by side with full-time employees, doing the same job and the same shifts, for years and years on end. I know that it's become a political partisan issue—at least people are trying to make it so—but people have been employed on these casual arrangements from way back when Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were Prime Minister. This has been going on under successive governments. It is the collective fault of all of the mining companies that are engaging in these practices. They are doing it under the fair work laws that were instituted by the previous Labor government. That I have to note as well.

But there was a victory last week where casual workers who are terminated after they've been employed for a period of time as de facto full-time workers are now given the ability to get all the entitlements at severance that are available to full-time workers. Essentially the law is saying here: these people are full-timers. I note the Labor Party has a policy in this regard, which it calls 'same work same pay'. But I've got to tell you it is really a no-work-no-pay provision. If, as Labor proposes, we set a timeframe on the conversion of a casual labour hire contract worker to a full-time worker, all the mining house is going to do is simply terminate their contract with the labour hire contractor. That casual worker won't then go onto a full-time job; they will go onto no job and the unemployment queue. It's a very, very big problem that we have here.

There are no easy solutions, but I have implored my government, through the employment minister, the Leader of the National Party, and the minister for resources, to look very carefully at this and what we can do to fix this problem that is not going to lead to further job insecurity by making people unemployed—as Labor plans to do. So I call on the mining companies to end this practice. It is wrong and it is unethical. (Time expired)

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In accordance with standing order 43, the time for members' statements has concluded.