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Wednesday, 30 November 2005
Page: 128

Senator LUDWIG (6:05 PM) —I continue from where I left off on the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005, that the thrust of this reform is simple—to leave workers with little or no minimum standard or safety net. Without even looking at the unfair dismissal changes, the reforms will fundamentally undermine the rights of all workers in Australia. Ordinary workers know this, community groups know this and church groups across Australia know this. The Howard government seems to be deaf. Labor has and always will fight for the rights of workers and ordinary Australians. It is the basis on which this party was formed more than 100 years ago, and Labor will not give up the fight simply because this extreme, power mad government plans to force its 1970s ideology onto a booming 21st century economy. Labor has always fought for the rights of Australians and will continue to do so.

The government may have the numbers in the Senate, but a majority is nothing compared to the will of Australian people. The Australian public is saying, ‘We won’t stand for this.’ The government should listen to that. The people are also saying: ‘We won’t stand to see our family time taken from us. We won’t work for little, and we will not give up our rights that have been fought for for the last 100 years.’ This is not the end of the debate today. The government has taken to quoting comments from every trade unionist as though they were gospel Labor position. What goes around comes around, and the government should get its calculator ready, because every time a worker is dealt with unfairly by an employer under this system Labor will be more than pleased to tally them up and lay them directly at the government’s feet for the Liberals and The Nationals to look at. But whatever abuse of workers’ rights this extreme government puts into practice, the voice of the Australian people will ring loud and clear at the next election. Mr Howard is ignoring the voice right now, but let us see what happens in 2007. His extreme ideology and his judgment and dismissal of Australian people’s rights will cost him his government. (Time expired)