House debates

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Questions without Notice

Workplace Relations

2:25 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Yesterday the electricians and plumbers union was ordered to pay a fine for minor paperwork breaches, a fine which is double the amount that celebrity chef George Calombaris's businesses were ordered to pay for stealing the wages of more than 500 workers. Why does the government always have one rule for workers and another for employers?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The penalty imposed upon the CEPU was determined by an independent judge of the Federal Court of Australia, applying the Labor government's own laws. What workers care about is being paid the wages they are entitled to. That is what happened in the Calombaris matter. Workers have been paid $7.8 million of wages that they were owed, thanks to the work of the government regulator, the Fair Work Ombudsman.

You may ask, how is that made possible? We have increased funding to the Fair Work Ombudsman by more than $60 million in recent years. Members of the House may want to know why we had to increase funding to the Fair Work Ombudsman by $60 million so they could do their job and ensure that workers who had been dudded of their pay would get their payments. That is because when Labor were in office they cut the Fair Work Ombudsman's funding by almost 20 per cent. The hypocrisy of the Labor Party, who come in here and make these statements while at the same time they are seeking to prevent the government from ensuring that workers' entitlements don't get ripped off by dodgy unions, is amazing. They have it every way, each way, every day.