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Tuesday, 8 November 2005
Page: 121

Mr SCHULTZ (10:24 PM) —It is with a great sense of enthusiasm and achievement that I rise today and add my support to the government’s Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005. For the record, this Mr Schultz has bloodlines and views that are entirely different to those of the Mr Schultze who has just been quoted. As we all know, a modern and responsive workplace relations system is vital to ensure high productivity and a strong and prosperous Australian economy. Having set the wheels of change in motion back in the 1990s, it is now time to complete the picture to ensure that the forward progress made during the past nine years will continue well into the future.

One of interesting things about this industrial relations debate is that you hear one view from members opposite one year, and then the next year, or a few years later, you hear an opposing view in stark contrast to the original. I will just quote from the member for Perth in the Hansard of 17 October 1995. He said:

The Howard model is quite simple. It is all about lower wages; it is about worse conditions; it is about a massive rise in industrial disputation; it is about the abolition of safety nets; and it is about pushing down or abolishing minimum standards. As a worker, you may have lots of doubts about the things that you might lose, but you can be absolutely sure of one thing: John Howard will reduce your living standards.

Interestingly enough, on a Sunday Sunrise interview on 20 February 2005, the same member, the member for Perth—and this is the hypocrisy of the members opposite—said:

It is possible to consider, in the abstract or hypothetically, a single or a unitary system. It’s not a novel policy idea, and you can contemplate a whole range of efficiencies that would occur in the economy and in the system if that were to take place.

I also take the opportunity to quote a well-known trade union figure, Mr Bill Shorten. At an address to the National Press Club on 20 February 2002, he had this to say:

Variations in state laws are also time-consuming and frustrating for employers. It is ridiculous there are more than 130 pieces of state and federal legislation pertaining to industrial law.

I go on to quote another well-known Labor entity with whom I had the pleasure of sitting in the New South Wales parliament. I am referring to Jeff Shaw, the former New South Wales Attorney General, now engaged by Unions NSW to organise a High Court challenge against this bill. In the Business Council of Australia IR forum in the year 2000, he said:

... the Corporations power has been liberally interpreted by the High Court and can sustain legislation designed to regulate the employment relationships between a corporation and its workforce.

…            …            …

Industry and commerce increasingly crosses historically determined state boundaries. The wages and conditions of employees are relevant to national economic considerations and it will often be convenient for both employers and unions to have uniform national conditions.

So, once again, we have well-known Labor Party figures saying one thing on one day and saying another thing on another. Then, when you go back in history, you have people involved in speaking against the legislation today being quoted as saying that they were in favour of a national system. Mr Speaker, I know the hour is getting short. I seek leave of the House to continue my remarks tomorrow.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.