Thursday, 10 December 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to Senator Birmingham, the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Why did Mr Morrison and his ministers have to be asked six times in the House in question time over this week before finally telling the truth and admitting that their own legislation will enable cuts to the take-home pay of workers?
Senator Wong, your question relates, obviously, to the types of reforms to industrial relations that our government has outlined—reforms that build upon the pillars of our economic recovery plan in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and the shock waves that it sent across the global economy and our own. Although our economy has withstood those shock waves far better than most of the rest of the world, seeing businesses survive that elsewhere would not have survived and seeing jobs survive that elsewhere would not have survived, we still face challenges in terms of that economic recovery. And so that we do get the continued growth in jobs that we have enjoyed, that has brought us to this stage of the comeback from COVID-19, we are making sure that through the budget we deliver in relation to growth and investment to make sure that Australians, through our tax reforms, have got more money to spend, to make sure that businesses have got more incentive to invest and to make sure that there is confidence to employ as well.
Our approach right through this pandemic has been one of engagement and consultation, be it with the states and territories or be it with business or the trade union movement—and we welcome, and thank them for, the cooperation that has been shown through the different stages of the pandemic. We equally welcome the fact that in relation to reform of the IR system, looking forward, there was a very lengthy consultation process, bringing together the different groups for over 180 hours of industrial relations discussions, all of them designed to try to get collaboration and consultation around— (Time expired)
My supplementary is to give the minister a second chance to be honest with working families and admit that the government's new laws enable cuts to take-home pay, at the end of one of the hardest years in the lives of so many Australians.
The reforms we're putting in place are, first and foremost, about getting more Australians into jobs. Australians have the best chance of having the best pay packet when they are in a job, when there are more Australians in jobs and when we see growth in the jobs market. In terms of Australians being better off, employees in casual work wanting to transition to part-time or full-time work will be better off under the reforms that we are proposing.
Both of your questions, Senator Wong, did have some politically loaded phrases in them. The minister, in my view, can't be instructed to answer a part of the question. He is talking about the specific policy and package of bills, and I do consider that to be directly relevant because he is talking about the government's policy and not anything else. Senator Birmingham.
Thanks, Mr President. In relation to Australians in jobs being better off, as I was saying, those in casual work wanting to transition to greater levels of permanency will be better off under our reforms. Those part-time employees wanting more hours of work in key industries will be better off. Employees worried about being underpaid will be better off under the reforms that we have outlined. Employees working in significant greenfields projects—
Despite repeatedly denying its legislation permits the take-home pay of working families to be cut—before finally conceding it will!—earlier this afternoon Mr Porter said of his legislation, 'There's plenty to keep everyone interested and alert.' What else in this government's reforms under Mr Morrison should workers be alert to?
I would be interested to have time to go and look at the transcript of Mr Porter's remarks. I'm sure Mr Porter was probably being asked about something like the Senate inquiry that may well occur, of which I have no doubt those opposite will run a scare campaign, as they already are every step of the way in relation to the consideration of this legislation. I know that they can't help themselves in terms of wanting to run a scare campaign. They can't help themselves. They will opt for negativity; they will opt for the scare; they will opt, of course, for mistruths and misleading at every step of the way.
We are quite happy, having gone through an exhaustive consultation process in this legislation, to now submit it to the scrutiny of the parliament, to have the extensive Senate inquiry and to give the opportunity for those who want to find points of interest in the bills to debate them through that Senate inquiry and for the facts to shine through, because the facts will show that these reforms will be good for Australian businesses and employment and will create more jobs for more Australians.