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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1119


Mr HAYES (FowlerChief Opposition Whip) (15:56): I am happy to participate in this MPI debate, but jeez, I tell you what, sitting over here it is like being lectured to by those who are holier than thou. We have actually heard a few of these things before. As a matter of fact those of us who have been in the parliament will think they have almost plagiarised some of the speeches made in the Work Choices debate. This is coming from the same people who said, 'We promise that there will be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to pensions and no cuts to the ABC and SBS.' They also promised to build 12 submarines. Where? In Adelaide. They came before us and said: 'We said all those things but things have changed here. We have to make some change.' They came back to this place and said, 'In terms of health and education, we are taking $80 billion out of the budget.' They did not mention the GP tax before the election, but they thought they would put that in there too. They are putting pensions on a lower indexation rate. With the subs—jeez, I tell you what—as far as we know they are doing a private deal with Prime Minister Abe in Japan. They do not want to answer questions on subs now. They will not commit to building these subs in Adelaide, which is what they said before the election they were going to do.

They come to this debate and say: 'You should trust us. We are not going to touch penalty rates. We are not going to cut conditions of workers. That is not us.' They want us to believe that they are the workers' best friend. These people have form. They are the people who introduced Work Choices. Those who were around then saw what they sought to do. They attacked people on minimum rates of pay. They made it legal for the first time in our history to pay people below award rates. You could attack penalty rates, could attack overtime and force people to sign contracts where they got paid lower than the award and they said, 'This is all about improving our economy and making us more productive'—all the things they are saying now is what they trotted out in Work Choices. And they say: 'Trust us. We are not going to do anything.'

The Minister for Employment, Senator Abetz, says that he is not going to accept the recommendations of the Productivity Commission if they are about overtime, conditions and penalty rates. This is the very same minister who wrote the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission and put those very specific things in them. So do not come along and say: 'I'm not going to accept these recommendations. I never was, but I thought I would put them in just to see what would happen.' This is not a place where you play suck it and see. This mob over there are trying to do precisely what I said they would before the last election—say one thing and do the exact opposite, but this time they are going to blame the Productivity Commission: 'It was not us; it was the Productivity Commission recommendation.' They are saying this because it is going to improve the productivity of workers, the land, the industry and all the other things they want to trot out, but one thing is constant: they will be attacking Australian workers.

I imagine quite a few of those opposite represent electorates which have living in them doctors who work in hospitals, nurses, cleaners, firies and cops, all of whom rely on penalty rates to make up their take-home pay. I hope you have the courage to stand up and tell them what you are trying to do here, which is to pull the wool over their eyes. They will not forget Work Choices, but do it twice and they will be coming for you.

It is interesting to have these people over there lecture us on employee relations. They say they are the workers best friends! We have seen what you have done. You have got a higher education bill in the parliament at the moment to deregulate university fees so that universities can charge what they like. On the other hand, you are going to cut funds to the universities. So you are actually forcing the universities to cost-shift. If you apply the same notion to industrial relations, do you really want to trust this mob? They are the party of Work Choices. They are the ones who have brought industrial relations reform to this place—not sitting down and negotiating positive improvements in productivity benefits for industry and workers but simply kowtowing to the backers of and donors to the Liberal Party, those who are pushing for IR reform. So when they say 'trust us', don't.