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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1115

Mr PASIN (Barker) (15:41): Oh, how much I enjoyed the dulcet tones of the member for Bendigo. It is almost worth travelling all the way to Canberra from Mount Gambier simply to hear her. This place can be a bit depressing. I thought I was coming to a place where we would engage in battles of big ideas with intellectual giants. Instead of that, we have another day, another matter of public importance and another scare campaign. There is a surprise! If gold medals were given out for running scare campaigns, those opposite would be a atop the dais. Even the member for Shortland would get a gold medal. I cannot say that that would happen in every category.

I could go through at length what is happening—and of course we all know that there is a Productivity Commission review being undertaken, consistent with the commitment we took to the election. I thought I would spend the few minutes I have talking about some comments that have been made by some members opposite—one of whom is still in the chamber. I am sure he will enjoy this. Before I get to the member for Gorton—and I will get to him—I want to talk about Dr Andrew Leigh, the shadow Assistant Treasurer. We have all seen Clockwork Orange, or at least I have, and we all know that he has been on a Clockwork Orange-style re-education program. To be honest, I reckon Labor should get their money back because the re-education campaign did not quite work. On 24 January this year—not two years ago and not five years ago, not when he was penning his most recent book—he was asked by Linda Mottram on the ABC:

Nonetheless, the Productivity Commission review is going ahead and the sacred cows are all on the list: penalty rates, minimum wages, unfair dismissal laws. Is there any room for restructuring any of those things in the dynamic economic environment that you're describing?

Andrew Leigh answered:

Linda, I'm always up for an evidence-based discussion.

So there we have the shadow Assistant Treasurer talking about an evidence based discussion, not ruling out penalty rate changes like the Prime Minister has.

I want to move to the shadow employment minister. This is the person who has the temerity to come in here and submit a matter of public importance about the government's attack on the wages and conditions of working Australians. Do you know what he has had to say? On 24 January—I wonder whether the member for Gorton remembers this—he made some comments. I would not call him a hypocrite—I would not do it—but this is what he said:

There are particular provisions in each award or agreement that I think should be reviewed and I'm not suggesting for a moment that there aren't provisions including penalty rates that shouldn't be looked at.

This is the man who has the temerity to come into this place and raise a matter of public importance.

Mr Brendan O'Connor: You're a fool!

Mr PASIN: I am a fraud.

Mr Brendan O'Connor: Fool!

Mr PASIN: Oh—I am a fool! That might be unparliamentary. But what I did not do is come into this place and say 'Oh, this is a matter of public importance; we need to discuss this in detail.' Look, I do not blame him; what he has forgotten—what he has conveniently forgotten—is that there is a review being undertaken, right now, of penalty rates. It is not the Productivity Commission's review; that is a review that is happening quite separately. The review that is being conducted is being conducted by the Fair Work Commission.

A government member: Who set that up?

Mr PASIN: I wonder: who initiated it? It was the then minister and now Leader of the Opposition—the guy who comes in here and tries to lecture us about the direction in which the country needs to head. It was Bill Shorten, ladies and gentlemen. The thing the member for Gorton forgets is that—unlike the Productivity Commission review which can only make recommendations; it is a report to government, not a report of government—if the Fair Work Commission changes the rules, that has the effect of law. So what we have here are A-grade hypocrites coming into this place, trying to scare the workers of Australia. What we are doing is getting on with the business of making a strong and secure economy to secure their conditions of employment. (Time expired)