Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Questions without Notice
Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022
My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. How will the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 lift wages for low- and middle-income earners, and has the misinformation stopped?
I thank the member for Calwell for the question, and I say to the member for Calwell: I wish the misinformation had stopped. I wish it had. But I reckon it's not about to. I reckon it's going to keep coming. We've heard a bit.
Only this morning, there was an interview with none other than the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, where the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was asked about the Senate committee report that came out yesterday. Members will be aware that the Senate committee has recommended a change in the definition of 'small business' from 15 to 20. The government is considering that change. The words of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this morning, when interviewed on Sky News by Peter Stefanovic, were these: 'They did make that very modest change, lifting 15 to 20, but that's not going to make a difference.'
Let me tell you the difference it makes. If the government does accept that recommendation from the Senate, it means 97½ per cent of Australian businesses are excluded from that stream. Two and a half million businesses would be excluded from that stream. That's a pretty big difference. That's a pretty significant difference.
I've got to say it's a fair call. If I were the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, any time someone quoted me I'd say, 'Oh, I've been misrepresented,' because there is nothing more dangerous for the integrity and reputation of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition than her own words, and the rest of the team is following suit. I've looked at this one as well, from the member for Hughes, who we've heard from a number of times today. The member for Hughes said in the debate in this House, 'There is no evidence that these reforms will actually deliver higher wages.' Well, let's go to the architect of low wages being a deliberate design feature and let's look at what the current head of the OECD is saying about multi-employer bargaining. A 2020 OECD report said multi-employer agreements are 'necessary to negotiate targeted raises in female dominated and low-paid sectors'. A 2019 report said that multi-employer arrangements are 'associated with higher employment, lower unemployment, a better integration of vulnerable groups and less wage inequality'.
The real arguments have come, though, from the member for Longman, who has taken up Senator Cash's sense of nuance and said:
… we know that socialist and communist governments' underlying ideology is to control people's lives, and this legislation feeds into that ideology.
Opposition mem bers interjecting—
All the calm over there is just breathtaking!