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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1081

Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (13:35): In 2010 the Leader of the Opposition at the time, now Prime Minister, said about Work Choices, a policy his Liberal government introduced: 'It's dead, it's buried, it's cremated now and forever.' Well, after a few years in exile it appears as though we have a return from the dead.

Under this Abbott Liberal government Work Choices is making a comeback—step by step, agreement by agreement—as they chip away at penalty rates and the minimum wage, working their way through the IPA wish list. The government is out to attack workplace conditions and the rights and wages of workers.

In my electorate of Newcastle we saw it firsthand when the Abbott Liberal government cut the real wages of nearly 4,000 Defence service men and women by offering them a paltry, below-inflation pay-rate increase of just 1.5 per cent per year. The Prime Minister had to be dragged kicking and screaming to reverse his unfair decision to cut the Australian Defence Force's Christmas and recreation leave, among other entitlements.

The Prime Minister said before he was elected that he would not make any substantial changes to the workplace relations landscape. Yet, since elected, this government has introduced six pieces of antiworker legislation into parliament—all of which diminish workers' rights and employment conditions. The Prime Minister might claim he is not coming after Australians' wages and employment conditions, but his government's actions tell a very different story. It is true that the story of Work Choices is part of the Liberal Party's— (Time expired)