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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6157

Workplace Relations


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:08): My question is to the Prime Minister. The Australian Bureau of Statistics confirms that company profits have increased by 5.8 per cent over the year, nearly three times as much as wages growth of 2.1 per cent. Why does this Prime Minister support arbitrarily cutting the penalty rates of working Australians this Sunday while he's giving an $80 billion handout to big business? Or is this just another case of the Prime Minister telling nearly 700,000 hardworking Australians, who are again having their penalty rates arbitrarily cut, to just get a better job?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:08): I can well understand the desperation of the Leader of the Opposition, faced as he is with a challenge from the member for Grayndler, who has laid out his wares and reminded everybody that there was a time when the Labor Party stood for aspiration, stood to encourage people to get ahead. It was a party that talked about opportunity. The member for Grayndler was out there with the most pre-briefed political speech any of us can remember. You couldn't move in the press gallery. There were so many people working for the member for Grayndler, pushing through the crowds to get copies of that speech out there. You know what? It's a speech that would have been completely unremarkable in normal times, because it talked about great Labor leaders. It even talked about a great Liberal leader: John Carrick. It talked about the importance of hard work. It decried class war and the politics of envy. And who was it aimed at? The Leader of the Opposition. That's what it was all about.

And so now, having been chastised by his rival, the member for Grayndler, what does he do? He goes further to the left with one personal attack after another. He talks about penalty rates. Let's talk about Cleanevent. What about that? They had a penalty rate of $50 an hour under the award. The Leader of the Opposition, that champion of the poor and oppressed, that battling advocate for the workers, traded it down to $18 an hour. You know what? My old friend Neville Wran used to say, 'Anyone can go to jail if they get the right lawyer,' but I say anyone can get their penalty rates halved if they have the Leader of the Opposition representing them.