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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 16382

Mr KERR (1:56 PM) —First, I acknowledge the presence in the gallery today of a number of persons concerned about the interests of those who hold TPI entitlements. What I want to speak about today is International Justice for Cleaners Day. It is a campaign that lobbies employers and companies to provide better conditions for their cleaning work force. The campaign began in the mid-1980s in the United States, a country where there are large and growing numbers of working poor—people who work full time yet live below the poverty line, with barely enough money to feed and clothe their families. Sadly, this state of affairs is also present in the Australian community. The fact that the campaign is now a global one, and is extremely strong, tells us that the rights of low-paid workers are still not well addressed either by governments or by employers. The Australian leg of the campaign this year focuses on cleaning staff at Westfield shopping malls. The rights of low-paid workers are vital to the fabric of Australian society. I, and most members of this parliament, do not want to live in a society that does not value and respect the work done by those behind this campaign. That means we have to do more—and all within our means—to make sure cleaning staff have their rights and entitlements protected, so that we do not see Australia's work force slip into the working poor society that is so tragically seen in the United States and that is so close to emerging in this country.