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Monday, 7 November 2005
Page: 22

Mr RIPOLL (1:50 PM) —There is a curious situation in my electorate at the moment which I want to raise today. I speak of an industrial dispute at the James Hardie work site at Carole Park. In a situation reflecting the case of Boeing workers in Newcastle, the employer has refused workers the choice to enter into a negotiated collective workplace agreement. So here we are on the cusp of brave new workplace arrangements, as John Howard’s extreme industrial relations regime is about to become law, and some companies are already taking the big stick to employees. It seems to me that companies like James Hardie cannot wait to take advantage of the new laws to exploit ordinary workers, strip away their entitlements and seriously undermine a cooperative workplace. Are they running point for the government, I wonder. Is this payback for the campaign the unions ran to get the entitlements owed to former employees who had their health and lives wrecked by asbestos? Who knows? But we do know that what James Hardie is doing is very unfair to and very bad for ordinary people. James Hardie has proven itself to be a less than honourable corporate citizen, and these actions at Carole Park should be condemned for what they are. They are hurting local families but, unfortunately, this may become the norm once John Howard’s extreme industrial relations laws come into effect in just a few days time. Labor supports hardworking families and ordinary workers as it tries to ensure that they are treated fairly in the workplace. (Time expired)