House debates

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Workplace Relations

2:38 pm

Photo of Steve GeorganasSteve Georganas (Adelaide, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. According to the government's own fair Pay Calculator, under the Prime Minister's industrial relations changes, a butcher working part-time, Thursday to Sunday, could lose nearly $7,000 a year from their take-home pay. Why is the Prime Minister abandoning these workers?

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

That calculator simply does not produce that result. It simply does not produce that result. That is absolutely nonsensical. This bill does a range of things with respect to underpayments to make sure that people get paid. It makes enterprise agreement-making quicker and faster. It works on ensuring that part-time permanent employees can get shifts and get paid more in circumstances where they're not presently getting shifts and being paid more.

This bill provides the first consistent, strong pathway to permanent employment from being a casual, and these are all things that Labor now oppose. As it was put in an article by Mr Phillip Coorey:

One Labor source said if these provisions became "collateral damage" then so be it.

So provisions that would ensure that people who are underpaid get protected, that's collateral damage now, is it? A small claims tribunal to ensure that people get paid properly becomes collateral damage. Changes designed to give permanent part-time employees the option to work extra shifts and earn more money if they want to, that's collateral damage now, is it?

You now oppose ensuring that there is a consistent strong pathway for an employee who wants to move to permanent employment from casual employment exists. And that is collateral damage.

You could have looked at this bill like you would look, for instance, at a menu in a Chinese restaurant. You could have looked at it and looked at the things that you say increase the ability to get back wages where people have been underpaid, to get more employment for people who are on part-time contracts, to get proper penalties for wage theft, to make enterprise agreements simpler—

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I have a point of order on relevance. There was a specific instance raised by the member for Adelaide. The minister is now ranging across a whole range of different areas that don't deal with this butcher situation and a $7,000 pay cut.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Deputy Manager of Opposition Business, the minister certainly did briefly stray into other business, but he's now certainly on the subject of pay. I think he's entitled when he's asked a question that asserts the government is cutting pay to be able to talk about what his policy approach is with respect to pay as it relates to the legislation.

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

One thing this legislation does is make enterprise agreements and bargaining in enterprise agreements simpler and faster than at the moment. Why does that cause increased pay for people? The average weekly earnings for people on enterprise agreements is $1,331 and for those on awards it is $789. So the more people we can get covered by enterprise agreements, the more that they will get paid. That used to be your position. The member for Watson said:

Bargaining is much harder at the moment and taking much longer than it should. Policies that get bargaining moving again are going to be really important …

I don't think anyone says that every rule that is there at the moment should remain unchanged. What they now say with respect to bargaining is that every rule that does exist at the moment should remain unchanged. They totally reversed their position because they want to avoid what they call collateral damage. There's one piece of collateral damage that they are trying to avoid and that's with respect to the Leader of the Opposition. (Time expired)