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Thursday, 19 March 2009
Page: 2318

Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (5:05 PM) —Family First has brokered a deal with the Rudd government that finally buries Work Choices. Family First and the Rudd government have agreed to the definition of a small business as one with up to15 full-time workers, with a review in 2011. Family First supports the Fair Work Bill as it strengthens protection and fairness for workers and small business.

It is a matter of fact that Family First voted against Work Choices, because it was a dog. It was a dog that bit Australians harshly. We voted against Work Choices, and it is about time that we buried Work Choices forever. Family First has brokered a deal to ensure that Work Choices is dead forever. This is extremely important. You have got to remember that the last election was fought on Work Choices and the environment. Australians voted and they wanted Work Choices dead and buried. The Senate will today deliver that final burial to Work Choices.

The Fair Work Bill does strike a balance between workers and small business, and it does strengthen both of them. The unfair dismissal laws were previously too harsh under Work Choices. We made that quite clear. When Work Choices was being rammed through the Senate, I went to the previous Prime Minister with 10 changes. I walked out the door after seeing the Prime Minister with zero. Do you know what? If he had adopted five of those 10, the coalition could still be in power today. But, no, they abused the Senate process.

The Senate is the house of review and it has done its job. It has struck a balance and a compromise that will actually benefit Australia in these tough financial times. This is not the time to muck around and play politics with the Australian people on workplace laws; I can tell you, it is not. These changes are important, and Family First support the Fair Work Bill with the changes that have been made over the last couple of days.