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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6159

Workplace Relations


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:14): My question is to the Prime Minister. When the Prime Minister visited a cafe this morning, did he apologise to the workers who served him his coffee for supporting cuts to their penalty rates at the same time as he's giving an $80 billion handout to big business, or is it one rule for the businesses the Prime Minister invests in and another for the workers who serve him?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:14): I thank the honourable member for her question and remind her that, just as supporting enterprise and supporting hardworking Australian families getting ahead was always part of the Labor Party's ethos for over a century but now abandoned by her and her leader—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr TURNBULL: Oh, the Labor Party has abandoned it. Any deputy Labor leader that can say aspiration is a mystery to her has lost touch with what the Labor Party used to be all about.

Another thing the Labor Party was founded on was the need to have an independent umpire. That was the belief of William Guthrie Spence, founder of the AWU, going right back into the 19th century. That was always the goal—an independent umpire—and, in one form or another, it's been part of our landscape for over a century. What do we have here? Take the Leader of the Opposition. A couple of years ago, he said, 'I know that, for the last 110 years, conciliation, arbitration and the ability to have an honest broker at the end of the day to hear complaints, concerns and appeals is what gave the workers a voice.' Fair Work considered the matter of penalty rates. It heard everybody—all the parties—and it made a decision. It wasn't an arbitrary decision; it was the decision of the independent umpire.

But, if you want to talk about arbitrary decisions, what about the way in which unions—and, in particular, the union formerly led by the Leader of the Opposition—traded away one set of penalty rates after another and all too often did so in return for payments by the employer to the union which were not disclosed. When this shocking state of affairs was revealed in the Heydon royal commission and we introduced legislation to do no more than require unions to reveal payments they had from employers to their members, who opposed it? It was the Labor Party.

The Labor Party has abandoned the workers. It's abandoned its values. The mystery of aspiration to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has not left the Labor Party anywhere but utterly out of touch with the people it was once founded to represent. No wonder the member for Grayndler has had a gutful of his leader.