Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 14 February 2002
Page: 254

Ms JULIE BISHOP (2:19 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Is the minister aware of proposed changes to the workplace relations arrangements in Western Australia? Would the minister inform the House how the federal government intends to protect the rights of non-union workers?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —I thank the member for Curtin for her question. I can inform the House that there are some changes proposed to Western Australian industrial legislation. These changes constitute an industrial relations roll-back on a grand scale. They will introduce a restoration of a Jurassic Park wasteland of strikes, bans and `no ticket, no start' signs. That is what the Western Australian legislation will do.

Firstly, the proposed Western Australian legislation abolishes individual workplace agreements which have given 250,000 Western Australian workers higher pay for better work. Let us be clear what it means to increase minimum conditions. It means lower pay and fewer jobs for Western Australian workers.

The SPEAKER —The member for Hasluck is a new member who might like to acquaint herself with standing order 55.

Mr ABBOTT —Secondly, the Western Australian legislation gives unions virtually automatic access to the workplace—and we know what that means, Mr Speaker. As far as CFMEU boss, Kevin Reynolds, is concerned, a right of entry means the right to turn up accompanied by 40 union heavies, and that is the risk that this legislation places on workers and managers in Western Australia.

Thirdly, this legislation will reduce normal working hours by five per cent and, on a conservative estimate, that means at least 3,000 jobs gone. Why is the Western Australian government sabotaging the Western Australian economy? It is quite simple. In December, the three largest union donors to the Labor Party wrote to the Western Australian Premier and bullied him into introducing this law by threatening to withhold future donations to the Western Australian Labor Party. The three unions in question—the CFMEU, the shop assistants and the Miscellaneous Workers Union—between them have given $10 million—

Mr Hockey —Ten million dollars?

Mr ABBOTT —Yes, $10 million to the Labor Party in the last six years. That is $10 million to buy Labor policy and that is 10 million reasons why the Labor Party cannot afford to reform itself. Thanks to a combination of the 60:40 rule and union donations, Labor governments wherever they occur are hostage to the union movement. The Leader of the Opposition knows this. The Leader of the Opposition knows that he is a hostage to the union movement. After he got elected, he said he was going to change the 60:40 rule, and then he went along to the ACTU executive and was gently persuaded to change his mind—flip beforehand, flop afterwards. What else can you expect from the Captain Contradiction of Australian politics?