Wednesday, 3 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Under the Prime Minister's industrial relations changes, a part-time disability care employee working a Friday to Sunday shift could lose more than $14,000 a year from their take-home pay. Workers in the care economy supported Australians through the pandemic. Why is the Prime Minister allowing cuts to their take-home pay?
Opposition members interjecting—
There is no evidence whatsoever of any such contention. In fact, yesterday the member for Watson and the member for Corio referred to a document which they said was evidence of the sorts of things that were put in that question. In the member for Corio's words yesterday, the government's IR changes were being cited as reasons for workers on $57,000 losing penalty rates. Then the member for Watson said, 'The government's proposed IR reforms would facilitate a decrease in wages for store managers.' The document they seem to be referring to and which seems to be the basis for your—
Honourable members interjecting—
You're probably glad I didn't let you table it because it doesn't show what you say it shows. What that document appears to be is a joint proposal before the Fair Work Commission regarding retail award arrangements. In a statement yesterday from the Australian Retailers Association, they said: 'The proposal is—
On a point of order of direct relevance: we have a very specific question about a carer and the impact there. By his own admission, the Attorney-General says he's referring to a different process and different question. He has explained to the House why he is not being relevant.
I say to the Manager of Opposition Business a couple of things just before I rule: certainly the question did have a specific question in it but it also had a preamble and a statement afterwards about the pandemic. These things aren't hidden—they're live—so it does open it up, but I do say to the Leader of the House he's more than briefly referred. He has the opportunity to add to an answer which he could do at the end of question time on yesterday's question; it's not an opportunity to relitigate yesterday. The Leader of the House.
The difficulty, of course, is that there's no evidence of anything that they propose because it's not true.
Mr Albanese interjecting—
I will take the interjection. The document the Leader of the Opposition refers to, that they sought to table yesterday, we now know what that document is; it is a proposal before the Fair Work Commission. We know exactly what it is. That is a proposal before the Fair Work Commission with respect to award arrangements. The Australian Retailers Association had this to say yesterday—
The question's premise is completely wrong. There's no evidence for it whatsoever, and it is as wrong as the statement that was made in peak desperation by the Leader of the Opposition before Christmas when he said that workers were being give the Christmas gift of a pay cut. Did that happen? The difficulty is that, when you're truly desperate before Christmas and you predict that something will happen at Christmas but it doesn't happen, you have no real authority and you're not being truthful.
Honourable members interjecting—
Yes. I seek leave to table the document from the Attorney-General to the Fair Work Commission where he requested that they undertake the work that he just referred to.
Leave not granted.