House debates

Wednesday, 17 February 2021


Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia's Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020; Second Reading

7:27 pm

Photo of Chris HayesChris Hayes (Fowler, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It seems that, in the 16 years I've been in this House, there have been many opportunities for me to speak on matters affecting industrial relations, employee security and the welfare of working families. There's been some history to this particular piece of legislation, the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia's Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020, being introduced in the House. The most egregious aspect of this legislation was addressed yesterday by the government—the removal of what is known as the BOOT test, the better off overall test. The significance of that, which has been there since the inception of this bill, is that if it was allowed to remain it would have meant it was legitimate to be able to vary terms of conditions of employees to the point they were no longer better off. I would have thought for most people in this House that would be an anathema, because most of us have the privilege of representing working families.

Far too often, as I say, over these 16 years I've seen legislation brought before this House by the conservative side with a view to doing just that—attacking workers' rights. As I said, removing the BOOT test was the most egregious aspect that was contained in the bill. It was also the most symbolic aspect of the bill that likened it very much to Work Choices. Back in 2008, Work Choices was a delicate piece of legislation which saw the removal of a Liberal government and the removal of a Liberal Prime Minister, because they went too far. They decided to not only make it legal to pay people below award rates—

Debate interrupted.