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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 1050


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (18:11): Thank you, Senator Marshall. I appreciate the significance of the question, given your background. In response to your question: to date, I am advised that 16 per cent of companies have been identified as having such clauses in their agreements. That is a significant number of companies. That is based on a survey by the department.

In relation to your question, I do not have those specifics. But I can tell you this: I have spoken to a number of small to medium businesses who are involved in the industries which you just referred to. And guess what? They cannot stand up to the CFMEU, they cannot stand up to Lendlease; they cannot stand up to Probuild. That is why we are moving this amendment with the crossbench, because we are here today to say to the big end of town and to say to the CFMEU—and not just them alone. I am not going to blame the CFMEU here, because in this game it takes two to tango. So I am going to lump Lendlease in there and I am going to lump Probuild in there, on Hansard. I am going to say to them: 'The reason we are doing this is to stop your cartel-like behaviour'.

I will stand up here every single day of the week and go into bat for the small to medium businesses who do not have the purchasing power, who do not have the voice and who rely on us. That is the person Senator Hinch spoke to in the post office. He proudly stood here today and relayed that story. They are the people, Senator Cameron, we are here today to help. Quite frankly, I can say to the big end of town: 'You are big enough and ugly enough to look after yourself'. That is evidenced by this agreement here between Lendlease and the CFMEU. But, in relation to the little guys that you are referring to, they need this chamber to do the right thing by them and give them a chance to participate in the third-biggest industry in Australia.