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Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Page: 11120

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (15:50): I thank the member for Jagajaga for bringing this important MPI to the House. She probably knows more about the interaction between the social security system and the wages system and about combatting poverty than any other member of this House. The government should listen to what she has to say and think about what she has to say, instead of going on ideological meandering efforts like we heard from the member for Grey. I heard many times that a job is the best form of welfare, but I think the ACOSS report Poverty in Australia 2016says it's the inverse:

Being unemployed is the strongest overall predictor of poverty, with higher rates of poverty amongst this group than any other group.

We hear time and time again that the best form of welfare is a job. In fact, unemployment is the sole cause of poverty. It is the cause of poverty and we should think about it that way, not this other way, because frankly it affects—

Mr Tudge: It's not a tricky concept—we want to get them into work.

Mr CHAMPION: I hear the minister saying it's not a tricky concept, but this is an important fact: right as we speak the car industry, with the last car slowly moving through the line of GM Elizabeth—

Ms Macklin: Creating unemployment.

Mr CHAMPION: They are creating unemployment. The government set out to violently and deliberately shut down the car industry. And guess what? They have done the same thing in shipbuilding in South Australia because they have sent—

Mr Tudge: This is misleading, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is offensive.

Mr CHAMPION: I don't know what the minister finds offensive. You had a Prime Minister and a Treasurer brag about shutting down the car industry, so I don't know why you're shrugging your shoulders and asking the Deputy Speaker for protection. I remember the Phil Coorey article saying that they were bragging in cabinet about who put the torpedo in the water. That is an actual quote—they were bragging about shutting down the car industry, just like they were tough guys on the shipbuilding industry when they were going to send submarines to Japan and supply ships to Spain. What does that cause? It causes unemployment, with 1,000 jobs lost out of ASC—1,000, with another 200 or 300 to go. It is not just a great cost to those individuals; it is a great cost to the manufacturing base and a great cost to future building. Guess what—those tradesmen will lose their skills and abilities and then we'll have to put that workforce all back together again. Guess what's going to happen to car industry workers come Friday. Many of them will be out in the labour market seeking work. Some of them will get work but some of them won't. So unemployment, this cause of poverty, is what this government has set out to create in the car industry; it's what they have set out to create in shipbuilding. And we've seen what they have set out to do with wages growth. They are against wages growth.

They have only ever had one idea—feed the donkey less and whip him harder. That's the sole reason to be conservative in this country. It is the only idea they've ever had. We've seen it in the penalty rates cuts; we've seen it in their dealings with unions. We know what they're all about—they're about tearing up wages agreements, they're about tearing up enterprise bargaining that generates higher wages and they're about tearing up penalty rates. That is what they set out to do on Work Choices and now they're applying the onion cutter—bit, by bit, by bit, by bit. Guess what happens when you set out to have a low-wage economy. It causes unemployment, it causes underemployment and it creates desperation at that working level because if you're unemployed or you're seeking work or you're underemployed, guess what? Employers have got the whip hand and you don't ask for a pay rise in that sort of economy, you don't get a pay rise in that sort of economy and you don't enter the middle class in that sort of economy.

And look at what else they're doing. They turn a blind eye to sham contracting. They turn a blind eye to shams in the visa system. They create a housing affordability crisis. They create an energy crisis through their division on carbon emissions, through their division on renewable energy. They cut energy supplements. They create a low-wage, high-poverty, high-unemployment system. Then they come into this House and say, 'Oh, well, the best form of welfare is a job.' Well, congratulations! You've just created a system where people can't get jobs, can't get wage rises, can't get a fair go, can't join the middle class. And then you have the temerity to come in here and ask for the Speaker's protection. Well, you're not going to get it, and you're not going to get it at the next election, either. What you're going to get is a kick in the pants.