House debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Questions without Notice

Workplace Relations

2:46 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations. Under the Prime Minister's workplace laws, a cook working from 6 am to 2 pm for five days a week, including weekends, could lose more than $6,000 a year. Workers like these have spent 2020 worried about their livelihoods. Why is the Prime Minister punishing them with a cut to their take-home pay?

2:47 pm

Photo of Christian PorterChristian Porter (Pearce, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

Why is the member deliberately trying to scare them for no reason whatsoever? Why would they deserve that after the year that they've had? Why would the member do that?

Again, the scenario that the member has raised just wouldn't happen. It doesn't happen now and it would not happen under any of the changes that we are suggesting before the parliament. It simply wouldn't happen. There are a range of protections to ensure that that scenario would never arise—a range of very strong protections. They start with the fact that any of these sorts of applications have to commence with agreement between the parties: the union as the bargaining representative, the employees and the employer. Indeed, one of these questions was asked earlier by the member for Spence and, not that long ago, in March 2017, the member for Spencer said: 'All of the workers on these enterprise bargaining agreements vote to either accept the agreement or reject the agreement. What worker would vote for less pay and fewer conditions? Answer: no worker would.'

That was the member for Spence. And that's the beginning of the protections for the process; at the end of the protections for the process is the public interest test that exists in the relevant section, which says that the Fair Work Commission can never approve any agreement if it will be contrary to the public interest to do so. I think that the member and I would both agree—and all the members opposite would agree with all the members of the government—that the scenario that you've raised could never be reasonably considered to be in the public interest. That's why it could never happen.