Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Regulations and Determinations

Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work Amendment Instrument 2022; Disallowance

5:54 pm

Photo of Jonathon DuniamJonathon Duniam (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Environment, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | Hansard source

They seek to gut it, as Senator Scarr says. But I don't understand why. At this time, in this political environment, in the world we live in today, workers' rights—the right to feel safe, the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of a particular attribute, be it your sexual orientation, your gender or any other factor—are something that I thought everyone in this place, including government members, thought was universally important. I'm struggling to think of a workplace where it is deemed appropriate to do the things that have been cited in the examples given by my colleagues who've already made contributions—to make homophobic slurs, to make sexist remarks, to intimidate people with reference to one or more of their personal attributes. Which workplace is it in which that is okay?

If we don't support this disallowance, we are saying that it's okay to do this in the construction industry, that it is okay to turn a blind eye to the claims that have been made and that that is somehow okay behaviour. What message does it send when, here in this place, we seek to ensure that we lead, set the standard and make sure that workers in all industries can go to work and feel safe, no matter who they are, what sexual orientation they have or what gender they have? Again, I am mystified as to why the government would seek to take away these powers from the ABCC. What is it?

What is more disturbing is a number of the contributions I've heard in this debate that have talked about why we would think it's okay to do so by minimising the work of the ABCC, trivialising it and claiming that all the ABCC ever did was go after people with stickers on helmets.


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