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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 9401


Ms RISHWORTH (3:03 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion. Will the Deputy Prime Minister outline the impact of Work Choices on working men and women?


Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for Kingston for her question. I know she cares about fairness and decency at work, and I know that, like Australians around the country, she was appalled at the Liberal Party’s Work Choices rip-offs. She was appalled that working people had penalty rates ripped off them. She was appalled that working people had redundancy pay ripped off them without a cent of compensation. She was appalled that good workers were dismissed for no reason at all, with no remedy. And she campaigned for the return of fairness and decency at work and the end of Work Choices. The member for Kingston, like other Australians, may have been entitled to think, when the Leader of the Opposition went out to the Australian people and said, ‘Work Choices is dead,’ that he meant it. But, of course, from the weekend, we know that the Leader of the Opposition is so out of touch that he believes the solution, in the middle of a global recession, is to have laws that enable working Australians to lose basic pay and conditions including penalty rates.

People might be wondering to themselves, ‘How on earth did the Leader of the Opposition come to this conclusion—apart from personally being so out of touch?’ Well, he does not have very good advisers amongst his political party and his backbench. Starting with his advisers from the backbench, we have the member for O’Connor, who, clearly, in interjections when the Minister for Housing—


Ms Plibersek —He wants the marriage vow back!


Ms GILLARD —That’s right! When the Minister for Housing was dealing with the question of pay and conditions—


Dr Stone —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is about relevance. This is just vindictive nonsense. We need to go back to the substantive question.


The SPEAKER —I will listen carefully to the way in which the Deputy Prime Minister is relating her material to the question.


Ms GILLARD —I thank the shadow minister for her turn of phrase, because she is right: Work Choices is vindictive nonsense, and it is just a pity that that is what the Liberal Party stands for. But in coming to this position in support of Work Choices and all of its rip-offs, we have got the advice from the member for O’Connor. He was clearly interjecting, when the Minister for Housing was on her feet, suggesting that it is fine for women workers to be required to work on weekends, and they ought to be grateful for the job, and questions of minimum wages really should not come into it. And he is on the public record as verifying this position, not only in the parliament in interjections but in the media today. I quote from a very illuminating statement from the member for O’Connor as he was walking into Parliament House today. He said:

I made my maiden speech in 1981—

That is quite a long time ago—

on industrial relations and questioned the stupidity in our modern society of penalty rates within the 38-hour parameters, I think it was 40 then, for weekends and evenings—