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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 3981


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:24): My question is to the Prime Minister. Four out of five workers in Queensland earn less than $80,000. Why is the Prime Minister giving the top one per cent of income earners a tax cut at the same time as leaving four out of five workers in regional Queensland with absolutely nothing?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:24): I thank the honourable member for his question. We were all interested to read today in The Australian an extract from his latest publication—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaac is warned.

Mr TURNBULL: in which he said:

As Labor leader, I still think like an organiser. I'll lead like a unionist.

That does bring to mind Australians on low wages. Indeed, it is a reminder of how the Leader of the Opposition cares about Australians on low wages. We think about the cleaners who work for Clean Event, some of the lowest paid workers in Australia, who were represented by the honourable member and his union. They had wages and conditions traded away in a special deal, a secret deal, between the AWU and the employer. The Leader of the Opposition sold them down the river. That is how he looked after workers on low wages. His answer to workers on low wages is: 'Don't worry, don't look into the deal that the union is doing with the employer, don't you worry about the payments from the employer to the union'—and any royal commission that dares to look into that is a horrible partisan exercise.

Mr Shorten: Mr Speaker, on a point of order that goes to standing order 68: I have given an explanation of how the Prime Minister has previously misrepresented me in this matter—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right will cease interjecting. The member for Mitchell is warned.

Mr Shorten: Mr Speaker, under standing order 68—where I have already given a personal explanation on a number of occasions and this Prime Minister has been misrepresenting me—I am now seeking for you to intervene.

The SPEAKER: With respect to standing order 68—the addition to it, I should say—I have made the point, when this has been raised before, that this is a difficult area. Obviously it was introduced at the beginning of this parliament. It requires a number of things. It needs for me to be able to compare the Leader of the Opposition's previous personal explanations with the words that are being uttered by the minister—in this case, the Prime Minister. The previous speaker outlined her approach—which, as I have told the House, is the approach I am adopting. I cannot be in a position to have with me every personal explanation and any variation that has been used. I think in this parliament it has been upheld once, and that was on a very clear-cut issue with respect to the member for Jagajaga. But on this occasion, given the breadth of the subject matter, I am happy to review the Leader of the Opposition's personal explanations this afternoon and monitor any answers through the course of this week.

Mr TURNBULL: I recognise the sensitivity of the Leader of the Opposition on Clean Event. But we will move on—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs is warned.

Mr TURNBULL: because the low-paid workers that the Leader of the Opposition betrayed did not just work at Clean Event. It was only a few weeks ago that 50,000 self-employed owner-drivers in the trucking industry were put out of work. They do not earn much money. And they were earning nothing thanks to the Road Safety—

Mr Bowen: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the question was about workers today, not the subject of a royal commission—

The SPEAKER: The member for McMahon is warned. He did not state the point of order, and he has made a habit of misusing points of order. The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr TURNBULL: I have never seen so many grasped straws in a row in one question time! There was the first one, and then the second; there will be a third: the Manager of Opposition Business will be up next.

The member for McMahon just said, 'We're not interested in workers referred to in the royal commission; we're interested in the workers of today.' Well, let me remind the honourable member: two weeks ago there were 50,000 workers—self-employed owner drivers—who were out of work, and they were out of work because of a crooked deal done between a Labor government, represented by the opposition leader when he was minister, and the Transport Workers Union. That is not theory, that is not rhetoric; that is fact. Those men and women had no income—and that was the objective: low-paid workers. The Leader of the Opposition has a track record that should put every low-paid worker in Australia in fear of him forming a government.