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Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Page: 8171

Senator KETTER (QueenslandDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (16:51): There is only one party in this place that can be trusted to put the interests of Australian workers first, and that's the Australian Labor Party. So let's look at this issue of putting workers first.

Let's look at the issue of 457 visas. This is an area which this government has completely mucked up. We know that last year the then Turnbull government rushed to announce the crackdown on 457 visas in around April, and they did that without consulting affected stakeholders. The changes and the subsequent revisions to the skilled occupation lists sent waves of uncertainty through the business, innovation and education sectors. We know that, within Mr Dutton's own department, officials were describing the skilled migration changes as a dog's breakfast. So this is a government that can't be trusted in relation to the issue of 457 visas.

We know that this is an issue particularly in Central and Northern Queensland. Our candidate in the seat of Flynn, Mr Zac Beers, has been very active in this particular space, conducting roundtables with our shadow minister for immigration, Shayne Neumann. That happened in April. We're particularly concerned about the reports that, in the solar farm area, there are unskilled workers going about on backpacker visas. These are not specialised workers, and they shouldn't be used to undertake work that should be completed by qualified professionals. This appears to be going on at the moment. So we've got an out-of-touch LNP that's constantly fought against labour market testing, which ensures that Australian workers are given the first shot at local jobs before temporary work visas are made available here. We've seen that Mr O'Dowd, the current member for Flynn, has voted against putting important labour-market-testing conditions into legislation, selling out local workers in Gladstone.

Let's look at the issue of labour hire, another issue that impacts particularly in Central Queensland. If you're listening for policies on the other side to deal with this issue of unfair labour hire practices, you'd be very disappointed, because there is not a peep from the government on this issue of unfair labour hire practices. Compare this with Labor. We have come up with the 'same jobs, same pay' policy, which goes a long way towards addressing this issue.

Again, Labor's candidate in the seat of Flynn is out there talking to workers who are the victims of unfair labour hire practices. He's been through places like Gladstone, Biloela, Moura, Blackwater and the Central Highlands, finding that these areas are being crippled by the atrocious behaviour of big companies that are taking advantage of the broken industrial relations system that we have, which allows casual labour hire to be a replacement for permanent jobs. Mr Beers has said that across Flynn he's heard stories from workers who have been made redundant, losing their permanent jobs and being offered their positions back as casual labour hire employees at significantly lower rates and with absolutely no job security or certainty. He's also heard from workers who have literally had to wait by the phone, afraid to miss a call from their employer to come in for a shift because, if they don't answer that call, they know that they'll be taken off the roster for weeks to come. He's also heard from workers who have been forced to accept unsafe and potentially life-threatening working conditions.

We know that, in Central Queensland, if you're dependent on a labour hire job and you speak up about safety issues, you can quite easily lose your job. It's an absolute disgrace that this government has stood by and allowed this practice of labour hire to infect workplaces around the country. The misuse of labour hire is destroying Central Queensland communities—let's not make any bones about that. This is a practice that must come to an end. Only a Shorten Labor government is committed to stamping out this insidious practice and restoring fairness to workers across Australia.

When we come to the issue of manufacturing, let's never forget in this place that it was those opposite who destroyed the automotive manufacturing industry. They walked away from it. Every country around the world worth its salt that has a motor vehicle manufacturing industry puts in some degree of subsidy. But this government would not support our sovereign capacity to manufacture motor vehicles. We on this side have a strong plan that will ensure that local manufacturing firms and jobs continue. Labor's Australian Investment Guarantee, the $1 billion advanced manufacturing— (Time expired)