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Wednesday, 10 August 2005
Page: 138

Mr TUCKEY (7:15 PM) —The member for Gorton could not help himself. He had to start talking about balaclavas and dogs in the waterfront dispute. He did not want to mention that the then minister of the Crown, a member of this parliament, had to have 24-hour-a-day police protection to save his life. He did not mention that. He did not think that the fellow behind the fence might have needed the dog to protect himself from the union heavies. He did not bother to tell this House that when that big blue was all over—the one that Bob Hawke as Prime Minister had spent $400 million of taxpayers’ money trying to fix: the overstaffing and all the rorts of the waterfront—what was the outcome? The wharfies sat down and voted half of their number out of a job, and the other half doubled productivity.

You do not have to be Albert Einstein or have a master’s degree in arithmetic to work out from that simple sum the level of abuse that had been orchestrated by a union whose one-time leader said, ‘I only have to pick up the phone to close down Australia.’ And that phone call was probably going to made from his winery in the hills outside Sydney—a working-class man battling away, like the leading CFMEU trade unionist in Perth who has just sold his entitlement to a unit in the Raffles development that he probably never paid for in the first place. Do not tell me about dogs and balaclavas. Do not tell me about people getting beaten up because they could not get onto a site to unload their truck—their only asset other than their family home.

Of course, this legislation is the response to a royal commission. The retirees from the trade union movement who portray themselves in this place as the Labor Party know who they are protecting. They are protecting the union bureaucracy, which has consequently attacked that royal commissioner, who did no more than his job, and his counsel assisting, and the people who made the various inquiries and the huge list of misdemeanours and crimes that were brought to their attention. And it is being suggested in this place that there should not be a response to that royal commission by this parliament. That is the argument that we hear from Labor Party members on the other side of this House—that the royal commissioner made it all up. Of course, that is not the case.

There are issues that affect every sector of the Australian community in this regard. I have written in my notes that the biggest single employer of people in Australia are probably its taxpayers—not these captains of industry who are so often portrayed as getting out of bed every morning wondering who they can sack today, but taxpayers. One example, which is being published in the West Australian nearly every day, involves a taxpayer funded passenger railway line that people would like to see finished, if only so they could use it. But, of course, the whole thing is in the grip of the CFMEU and a couple of related unions, and we find one of their leaders saying that he is going to pull all the blokes out. As we have already heard in this House, ‘blue flu’ was reported the other day—200 bronzed Aussies in the construction industry so sick that they all had to knock off on the same day. That is a known rort and it should be addressed through legislation.

What did this CFMEU union bloke tell us? He was going to call a strike because some companies, relatively small businesses, had received a contract to do part of the work and—horror of horrors!—their members were not members of Mr Reynolds’s union. That was the reason to shut the job down. But he said he was doing it with his hand on his heart because, of course, they were getting paid $300 a week less than his members. Who was paying the $300? Was he talking about the difference between $200 and $500, or $500 and $800, or $800 and $1,100 a week? Was this the sort of money we were talking about? I thought it might be of that order, but what did I discover? Out comes the story of the lollipop man. How much was he getting on these jobs? Ninety thousand dollars a year. What do those with genuine skills get paid?

The issue, therefore, is: how much was the Western Australian taxpayer paying above the odds? Just how much were they being screwed, remembering there were huge borrowings associated with this project and that they and their kids not only have to pay it off but also have to pay the associated interest charges? I am sure that, now that he is retired, the one-time Premier of New South Wales, Mr Carr, would have no trouble whatsoever admitting that he ended up with virtually no railway line at all because he and his government could not afford the cost—and that is these public services. The first thing we are told by the opposition when people are getting bullied, forced and virtually denied a living unless they kowtow to a trade union leader is that that is okay because somehow or other the workers are being protected. If you are a worker and you have to catch the train to work every morning, and you would like the fare to be as low as possible and you do not want a backdoor charge through your state taxes, how do you benefit from excessive claims, excessive strikes and excessive costs?

Then you could be an office worker wanting a job. You have just qualified at university and you would like to work for one of the big international companies which was thinking of building an office in, say, Perth because of its proximity to all the great resources of the north-west of Western Australia. So you think, ‘I’ll be looking forward to a job.’ The company calls tenders for an office building and the building contractors factor in the CFMEU bribes, problems and strikes and tell this major organisation the price, and they say: ‘No thanks; we can have our head office in Singapore, no trouble. We can have our head office nearly anywhere.’ I recently told the House of a lady running a Sydney legal practice from Sri Lanka. So where do the jobs go? They go with the building. Two or three Aussies may get a job, but for all the lesser people—the young graduates and the other clerks—there is no building, no head office; it is in another country.

This has become obvious in other areas. It was the Labor governments of Whitlam and Hawke that took to the trade union movement with the only weapon they were game to use. It was called massive cuts in tariffs, and that sure sorted out a lot of industries in Australia—they shipped overseas in minutes, and today we buy those products. Just try to pick up a shirt or something else that is made in Australia these days. They just destroyed all those jobs.

It is a bit harder to float in a building, but do not think it is not happening. A gas train in the north-west of WA costs $2 billion. A number of them installed to date were built by Australian labour—we have the expertise. I think the fifth one announced the other day by Woodside will not be manufactured in Australia. It just got too expensive; it got to be too much trouble. It is better to bring it in in units, take it off the barge and slide it into place. Look around at oil production in the ocean and what do you get? You get ships; you do not get platforms. And why are they ships? Because you can build them in Korea; you can build them in all parts of the world—sail them in, hook them up and produce oil.

These fellows tell us that everything they do is for the worker, but just check the jobs. In my electorate two hospitals were to be rebuilt. But a Labor government was elected, and they changed all the industrial laws and found they could afford only one. It became a scandal. People were meeting the premier of the state wherever he went from the other poor town—Moora—and giving him bricks as bricks fell out of the old hospital. Eventually they found out how much GST money they were getting from us and they decided they could afford the second hospital, but it cost them double because of the industrial problems and industrial policy they implemented.

Mr Speaker, I am very sad to have to discontinue my remarks at this stage, but it has been drawn to my attention that you have a matter of considerable importance that you would like to address before the 7.30 adjournment, and I naturally concede to you. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.