Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Matters of Public Importance


4:25 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

because in my past life I was proudly not only a truck driver delivering freight around this fantastic country for 11 years as an owner-driver and for four years as a company driver before that; I was organising with the Transport Workers Union. But it was not only me; it was also other great representatives of working people such as Senator Cameron, Senator Evans and, of course, Senator McEwen. There are wonderful things to be said for the opportunity to represent workers, but I have to tell you there is a damn downside. It is when a man or a woman comes up to a union organiser and says, ‘I have just lost my job.’

To the children up there in the galleries: there is no greater pain than to see a parent—a grown man—cry because he has lost his job through absolutely no fault of his own. I use the word ‘he’ a lot because the trucking industry is predominantly male, but I have had it from females as well. To have a grown man come into my office and break down in tears because he has lost his job through absolutely no fault of his own is demoralising, Senator Bernardi. Those of you who are born with silver spoons in your mouths have never had to sit there and watch a grown man cry because his job is gone. This is what the whole thing is about. You lot over there have no conscience. You are quite happy to see jobs go. As Senator O’Brien has made very clear, two MCGs full—200,000 workers—have had their jobs saved. Do not make me feel any sicker than I feel listening to the rhetoric and the rubbish that come out of you lot over on that side when we start talking about jobs and employment. You are an absolute disgrace. You are a disgrace to the people of South Australia, Bernardi, and you, Senator Williams, should hang your head in shame. I am waiting for your contribution from that great state of Tasmania, Senator Bushby; that will be very interesting. You won’t say a word, will you?


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