House debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2024

Questions without Notice

Workplace Relations

2:32 pm

Photo of Shayne NeumannShayne Neumann (Blair, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minster for Employment and Workplace Relations. What has been the response to the Albanese Labor government's reforms to help workers earn more and keep more of what they earn, including protecting workers from being expected to work when they're not being paid?

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the member for Blair, both for his role in this parliament and for the question, and also as one of the members of this parliament who's committed to making sure that people earn more and keep more of what they earn, as opposed to being one of those members of this place who's committed to people working longer for less; they're in this room as well.

And it's interesting that I hear that those opposite have made their first election commitment now in my portfolio, and the first commitment wasn't about whether there'd be new forms of bargaining. That didn't make them angry enough to make a commitment. The concepts of other legislation that we'd done about bargaining or the Fair Work Commission—none of that got them over the line. What really incensed them was that the principle of people working without being paid anything at all was being overwritten. This fundamental principle—

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The member for Groom will cease interjecting.

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

that some people should be working parts of their weekend for nothing—that was enough to enliven them to have their first election commitment in this area.

Let's just have a look at one of the sorts of workers in the member for Blair's electorate. Let's consider the impact of the right to disconnect on a constable, level 5, on $96,000 a year. On that, they're looking forward to a tax cut of $2,080. But, thanks to an article that's come out today from Ewin Hannan at the Australian, there's some information from what the Police Federation of Australia think about the commitment that the Leader of the Opposition has made. In their media release, they have specifically addressed the Leader of the Opposition, referring to his call and his first election commitment in industrial relations as being short-sighted, disrespectful and wrong. They go on to explain what happens when officers are sometimes called in the middle of the night for work that could easily wait until their next shift. That's why in many states but not yet all—what's the clause that they have in their enterprise agreement? It's a right-to-disconnect clause. The Police Federation of Australia is calling on all members of the federal opposition and those who are unsupportive on the crossbench to have a significant rethink of Mr Dutton's position on the right to disconnect, as this will have a significant negative impact for all first responders. In the words of the Police Federation of Australia:

Mr Dutton should unwind this ill-conceived thought bubble.

They said that their policy would be targeted. It's targeted against frontline workers, against pay rises, against job security and against people ever getting time away from work, where they know their time is their own.