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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 4098


Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (11:41): As a member who has not spoken in this debate, I want to express my support for the motion that has been raised by the member for Bendigo and highlight the actual issues that are involved in this motion. The member talks about the attacks on the pay, the rights and conditions of workers. This Turnbull government, and the Abbott government as well—all of whom these members are part of—have waged an ideological war on the workers and union members of Australia simply because they do not believe in fairness or in any sort of justice but in a one-sided system where the winner takes all. They do not care in the least about those workers who put their lives on the line each day when they turn up at work. They do not care about those truck drivers—the owner-drivers—that were covered on by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. The biggest issue about that legislation was that it was a safety issue. It was about safety not only for the drivers but for all Australians. But those on the other side of this House were driven by their ideology and they introduced legislation that will have long-term ramifications, not only for those owner-drivers but for all Australians, that will lead to an increase in the loss of lives.

I want to touch very quickly on part (d), where it talks about ensuring 'workers on construction sites have less rights than "ice" dealers'. Construction workers suffer some of the largest numbers of fatalities and losses of life of any industry. I think it goes construction, farming and mining. It is vitally important that there are occupational health and safety regulations on worksites and that unions are able to represent those workers that are exploited. I have visited many worksites. I have seen the situations and the conditions that workers are working in. I have seen the unsafe work practices that take place. All the union royal commission did was look at the unions. It did not look at those unsafe practices that were constantly employed on worksites.

Those on the other side of this House are taking away the rights of construction workers. They are taking away their rights to be adequately represented by their unions. Those on our side of this House are about exploitation of workers. They do not care about work safety. They want to make sure that workers receive less money. They want to see the penalty rates go. I have never heard a member of the other side stand up in this parliament for the rights of workers. Has anyone here heard them stand up for workers rights?

Opposition members interjecting

Ms HALL: No, they do not. Do you know what? They do not care about workers. What they forget is that the majority of Australians are workers. Be they working on a construction site, be they working in a mine, be they working in industry, be they working in shops, be they working in hospitality, they are all workers, and they all need to earn a decent living so that they can keep our economy rolling along. We need to make sure that they earn that living in a safe environment.

Those on the other side of this House do not care about safety. Every occupational health and safety piece of legislation that has been introduced into this parliament in the entire time I have been here has been about eroding occupational health and safety. Every piece of legislation that those on the other side of this House has introduced in relation to industrial relations has been about eroding the rights of workers.

So I think that this parliament should unite in its condemnation of the Abbott-Turnbull government and its attack on workers.

Debate adjourned.