Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2023


Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Workplace Relations

8:19 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister to the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | Hansard source

Not only was he married there, but his parents were married there and one of his children is going to be married there. What I'm saying to everybody is to let this humble church be a reminder to all of us in the coming year and to let the coming year be a good year. Let peace come upon your families and let peace come upon the Holy Land. And may you have a merry Christmas.

Actually, that was me being nice! Now I need to talk about the Labor Party and the unions. There would be peace in this chamber if we could get down to the bottom of the dirty deal between the Labor Party and the unions when it comes to the particular legislation called the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 and how this came about. I will tell the chamber how it came about: it came about because it is payback. It is payback from the Labor Party to the union movement because the union movement put millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars, into the election of this Labor-Greens government.

This bill changes the Fair Work Act to give unions the right to bust into businesses without any notice when they believe there's a risk of so-called wage underpayment. No-one supports wage underpayment, but this bill actually isn't about that. This bill is all about payback to the union movement. The union thugs don't need to submit any documentation to the government to do this and they don't need to give the business any heads up or warning to say, 'We're going to come along'. It means that these union thugs will rock up to your business—they probably don't even have to knock on the door, they can just walk in—and you're legally required to hand over details of your finances, employment register and any other information they deem relevant in their search for alleged underpayment.

This is ridiculous. I have seen a lot of rubbish proposals come to this place from the Labor Party over the years and I've seen a lot come from the watermelons, from their side of the garden patch, but this would have to take the cake. It takes the cake, it eats it and then spits it out again. Really? They're giving union thugs the legal right to break into businesses? You could be a sparky, an employer, and do the books out of your family living room in Oxley. This legislation will give unions the right to enter your home and access your private devices without any approval from the government and, more importantly, without any approval from yourself, your husband or your wife. What if you're a grazier out in Roma? Too bad! If the unions think you're underpaying someone, they can waltz up the back steps, onto the veranda and into the kitchen—which is where most people tend to do the business and paperwork—and then examine your financial records on the family computer.

To small businesses across Queensland: be afraid. Be very afraid of what the Labor Party and the unions have cooked up. It also, and this is quite interesting, gives unions the right to contact your employee—or, as this act refers to them, potential members.


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