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Thursday, 19 March 2009
Page: 2197

Senator ABETZ (12:19 AM) —We will not be pursuing opposition amendment (16). I move opposition amendment (17) on sheet 5739:

(17)  Clause 134, page 132 (after line 13), after paragraph (1)(d), insert:

            (da)    the requirement not to disadvantage employees; and

            (db)    the requirement not to increase costs for employers.

This is a very simple amendment and it will put the acid on the government. Ms Gillard made the promise to the Australian people that award modernisation would not disadvantage any employee. She also said to the Australian people—another one of these cast-iron guarantees that somehow have rusted away since 27 November—that there would be no increased costs for employers under award modernisation. They were the two solemn promises. We want to test and see whether the government is going to be true to its word and support the words of Ms Gillard or whether it is going to vote against her words and the promise that she made to the Australian people. Quite frankly, it was a promise that she must have known she could not keep. It was an impossible proposition to put to the Australian people. I personally believe that Ms Gillard knew that what she was saying was undeliverable, but I am willing to be corrected. The way that I will be corrected is when the government says, ‘Yes, Ms Gillard’s promise is deliverable and we will vote for these amendments.’ Somehow, by weaving some sort of industrial magic, we can have award modernisation which does not disadvantage any employees and does not increase costs for employers. In those circumstances, I am sure it is very easy for Labor to support the amendment and indicate that it has full support and faith in Ms Gillard’s comments to the Australian people before the last election.