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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 6989

Pensions and Benefits

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (14:50): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation. Will the minister outline how the government is supporting working families through decent entitlements and other payments for workers? Is the minister aware of any policies that would put these entitlements and payments at risk?

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:50): I thank the member for Parramatta for her question about decent entitlements for Australian workers. It is no secret that this government stands firmly on the side of decent entitlements for Australian workers, and there are many examples of this government's actions in recent times which support this proposition. There is the increase in superannuation for 8½ million Australians, from nine per cent to 12 per cent. Indeed, in the electorate of Parramatta, 26,400 people who earn less than $37,000 a year have had the tax they pay on superannuation abolished—so on the superannuation they get there is no tax. That is fantastic news for these 26,400 electors in the member's seat.

But of course there have been other things to support the entitlements of Australian workers. Again, we should remember the schoolkids bonus—the bonus which those opposite did not even trust parents to spend in the interests of their children. We had supplementary payments to people on allowances—$1 billion to help people make ends meet. But, of course, one of the best things that we have done to help the entitlements of workers is the Fair Work Act. An extra 2½ million Australians are now free from the tyranny of being unfairly dismissed and not having any legal remedies at all. Six hundred thousand workers get injured each year in Australia and they are able to bargain about make-up pay courtesy of this government. These are all very good entitlements.

But I was also asked: what are some of the challenges to the entitlements of people? Let me talk about some of the most vulnerable Australian workers in Australian society—those who get injured. I am afraid I have to report to the House that in New South Wales, as we speak, the New South Wales Liberal government is going after seriously injured workers. Is there no victim that the Liberals in this country will not hunt down and hurt?

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: Those opposite do not like hearing this. The House will be alarmed to know that if you are severely injured in New South Wales, after 12 months in New South Wales, that is it.

Ms O'Dwyer interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, the member for Higgins should stop yelling!

Opposition members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, he has the call!

Mr SHORTEN: If you are policeman in Orange who was injured standing up for people and protecting law and order, your medical injuries miraculously stop, according to 'Dr O'Farrell' and those Liberal quack doctors, at 12 months. Under the Liberals, if you take longer than 12 months you lose your medical benefits.

My concern is this: if you cannot trust the state Liberals to look after injured workers, how can you trust their brothers and sisters, the federal Liberals, to look after Australian workers? Not a chance—no trust. We do not trust you on workers. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The minister's time has expired. I will advise him, though, that the microphones in the place work very well and that although a bit of passion is required, yelling at us probably isn't.