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Thursday, 24 May 2012
Page: 5540

Employment and Workplace Relations

Mr HAYES (Fowler) (14:22): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. How is the government making sure that working people are getting a fair go at work? Are there any challenges to his support on the horizon, and, Minister, why is it important to be transparent about policies affecting working Australians?

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:22): In this government we believe in the fair go all round at work. In this government we believe in the creation of wealth in Australia and the creation and improvement of national income. But we also on this side of the House in this government believe in the fair distribution of the national income.

We are delivering the fair go all round. That is very clear. Here are five or six simple numbers: better productivity through the year, up to 1.8 per cent—up from the haunting legacy of the Howard government of 1.4 per cent; reasonable wage rises occurring for Australian workers; 87,000 new jobs created since January, despite the difficulties caused by the global financial crisis; superannuation—nine per cent to 12 per cent, opposed over there, supported here; and 8½ million Australians better off because of the people on this side. You do not have to take my word for these things. The ILO, the IMF and the OECD—the rollcall of serious global observers—say that this government gets the importance of the fair go all round.

I am asked, 'Are there challenges?', and I hate to say that there are some storm clouds of challenges gathering on the horizon. There are some people in public life who want to cut take-home pay, who want to cut shift rates, who want to cut penalty rates, who want to cut redundancy rates, who want to undermine safety at work. What we need to do in order to see off these repugnant ideas crawling out from under the rock where they have been banished since 2007 is to be transparent.

This government's transparency is here for all to see, and we stand by what we do for all to read—this is the bill we passed looking after coalminers; this is the bill we passed for better safety; this is the bill we passed for safe rates; this is what we have done for health and safety. We know where we stand. We are on the record. We have got our record, our views, out for all to see. Indeed, six months before the 2007 election, we had 50 pages of policy—nothing to hide, all upfront, all for debate.

But those opposite think that politics is a game of hide and seek. They hide the policies and the public have got find them. The quiet achiever from Canning, though, yesterday belled the cat. He said, 'We've got an IR policy, but we don't want to be done like John Hewson was by Paul Keating, so we're not going to tell you.' Indeed, Christopher Pyne played Sergeant Schultz on the media today: 'It's not me; I'm not the IR guy. Oh, that's the policy committee. I'm not in that. I'm only in shadow cabinet; what would I know?' Let me tell you, a mouse pad is not a policy. (Time expired)