Senate debates

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Agreement making in Australia under the Workplace Relations Act: 2007 to 2009

6:55 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia) Share this | Hansard source

It is interesting to listen to the old class warrior, Senator Cameron. He thinks he is still back in Scotland, back in the good old country, where there was real class warfare. Senator Cameron did not understand when he came to Australia that there is none of that sort of class warfare in Australia. But I have to say that ‘class warrior’ is better than the last terminology that was given to him but perhaps not quite as accurate. I think most people in this chamber and throughout Australia would agree with Senator Cameron’s own description of himself as a zombie. He also referred to his colleagues as having had a policy lobotomy. I happened to be in the coalition party room meeting all day today—I promise you I was not asleep—and I never once heard Work Choices mentioned. So Senator Cameron’s claim is clearly part of the Labor Party’s yearning for the good old days of the 2007 election, when they could scare enough workers into voting for them. How quickly those workers woke up and realised the Labor Party were not really for the workers. The Labor Party were about increasing mining taxes and destroying the jobs of workers, particularly up in the area I come from.

From our side of the fence, Work Choices has been declared dead and buried for two or three years now. What Senator Cameron is trying to do by continually raising the Work Choices mantra is to divert the attention of Australians from the continuing series of failures of the Gillard government: the pink batts home insulation fiasco; the Julia Gillard school halls program, an absolute fiasco; and the climate change policy, which you will recall was the great moral challenge of our time, which disappeared from sight along with the then Prime Minister. What Senator Cameron is trying to do is divert the attention of Australians from Labor’s absolute paucity of ability in governing Australia. For the first time in history a first-term government has lost an election. It is incredible that a first-term government could lose an election, but it happened at the last election. Senator Cameron yearns for the old days when they could try to mislead the Australian public and, indeed, Australian workers. I see that Senator Cameron has come back into the chamber to give some riding instructions, but I remind Senator Cameron’s colleagues that they are zombies and not allowed to have an independent view on these things. Remember, they have had a policy lobotomy, so they are not allowed to talk about policy unless it is approved by the union bosses. On Senator Cameron’s understanding of the document before the chair and on his understanding of what might or might not have happened in the coalition party room today, suffice it to say that, like most things Senator Cameron says in this chamber, it is fanciful.

I urge Senator Cameron to retreat to being, as was his own description, a zombie, without any view on policy—certainly without any view on policy they are allowed to talk about it. For those who might be listening as they are driving home, I want to emphasise that it is not me calling Senator Cameron a zombie; that was Senator Cameron’s own very famous description of his colleagues last week. He confessed to the world that Labor Party members are not allowed to talk about policy or to have any new ideas and get out there and argue the case—they simply have to toe the Ms Gillard line and do whatever is said by Ms Gillard to be the right thing, whether or not they believe in it. Fortuitously, on this side of the parliament, we do encourage debate amongst ourselves, because we are interested in good policy, and that is the way it happens. That is why this document before the parliament at the moment is so important.


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