Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Employment, Senator Abetz. Has the government established new rules that will enable employers to hire foreign workers on salaries of up to 10 per cent below standard rates?
That is the shortest answer I have ever heard Senator Abetz give. My first supplementary question, Mr President, is: given that the government has already cut $2 billion from training and apprenticeship programs, would the introduction of overseas workers on wages below standard rates simply make it more difficult for Australians to get a job?
This is the tragedy of a senator who cannot think through the answer that he is provided. I gave a quite unequivocal answer—and I do not know what he did not understand about the two letters of the one word 'no'—and he then based his supplementary question on the suggestion that I said yes to his question. The answer was no, so as a result his supplementary question has absolutely and utterly no standing.
Whilst we are talking about jobs, I hear the interjection of the former failed industry minister, who has 140,000 lost manufacturing jobs around his neck. That is his legacy of six years as industry minister—the loss of 140,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. Of course, Senator Cameron, whilst he was in the AMWU had a similar success story. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. It is obvious that the minister did not listen to the question. Would the introduction of overseas workers on reduced salaries reduce opportunities for young workers, who are already suffering under the youth unemployment rate of 14.1 per cent? It does not matter whether or not you have said no, I am asking the question: if it is introduced will it result in problems for unemployed young Australians?
Let me be absolutely clear. No worker can come to Australia and work for less than the minimum required by law. That is the situation. If Senator Cameron is aware of any such example, I invite him to report that to the Fair Work Ombudsman, who will ensure that the matter is then pursued and, if need be, prosecuted and, most importantly, that the workers' entitlements are in fact paid to them. So once again we have the Australian Labor Party going to an issue with an egg beater trying to whip up something that in fact is not there. Whilst it might look all fluffy at the moment, Senator Cameron, in a very short period of time all that fluff will collapse into absolutely nothing, which is the state of your policy position.