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Tuesday, 23 June 1998
Page: 5186

Mr TUCKEY (9:01 PM) —With two addresses coming from the opposition, neither member has taken the opportunity to rebut my claim that when the opposition in government set the threshold for the superannuation guarantee charge of $450 a month it did so because there would be no net return to the worker on superannuation paid under that figure because of the charges and the tax that applies. Let me remind the House that the tax that Labor introduced on the up-front tax that is deducted is deducted first, so the employee's funds are reduced by 15 per cent. Then management fees and other costs are deducted after that and they go on being deducted forever.

The other fact of life is that, in this area of casual employment, at $450 a month, frequently that is not 12 months of the year. It is mostly for much shorter periods such as seasonal aspects, et cetera. That applies in the tourist industry as well as the grape picking industry, if you want to make that comparison. The reality is that there was never anything in it for the worker. The people that first recognised that were the Labor Party when they brought in their superannuation guarantee charge. So there has to be another reason.

I heard the member for Wills (Mr Kelvin Thomson) bemoaning the plight of workers in the United States. Excuse me, but I thought I read the other day that they have four per cent unemployment and the longest likely period you will be out of work is five weeks. That is pretty tough, isn't it? Secondly, they want to quote wages without any reference to their purchasing power. You can live much more cheaply as a worker in America than you can in Australia because the necessities of life reflect the wage levels.

We went through that whole period of domination of the Australian industrial scene by unionists who went home and started organising their next pay increase claim immediately after the last one was granted. That was supposed to help workers when in fact the major beneficiary was government through bracket creep. Every time you increased wages by $10, the employers' costs went up by $15. That went into the price of the goods and was reflected in inflation and Mrs Housewife went down to the supermarket with the $10 less tax to confront the $15 increase at the supermarket. And we called it progress!

My father could keep four kids, a car and us all in pushbikes on six quid a week and my mother never worked in her life while today, with all the progress that the industrial movement delivered us, you cannot afford a house unless both you and your wife work. Some people say women work because they want to, and I say good luck to them if they do, but the economic facts of family life today are that you cannot afford the fundamentals that people afforded before without you both working. That is where you got us to.

The reality is that nobody needs the protection of an award in this matter. The member for Hunter (Mr Fitzgibbon) was in here today telling us how important it was that awards covered such things as training in the use of chemicals when the state government of his own political persuasion has responsibility for those activities. Why would you duplicate it? Why would you add all that additional cost? Why would you confuse the employer because he does not know which law he is supposed to follow? It is silly.

We want awards in the simplest form as the safety net. In the seconds I have left to me, I have to tell you that, 30 or 40 years ago, when I first entered the hotel industry, we had a 42-hour week and a flat hourly wage over six days. It seemed to work pretty well, but over time we got all these bits and pieces put into it until it became so complex that I had more fights with my staff wanting to know why they got paid more last week than this week. They worked the same hours, but if they worked them in the daytime instead of the night-time they got a different pay. They reckoned they were getting dudded the week they got less. I said to them, `Let's say we divide all the costs of employing you by the hours you work, including your holiday pay and everything.' It is a pity I cannot go on with this. (Time expired)