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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6584

Ms JACKSON (2:13 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister outline to the House the importance of fairness in the workplace? Are there any risks to this?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Hasluck for her question, I thank her for her representation of her local community and I thank her for her the amount of her lifetime that she has devoted to ensuring that Australians have fair and decent working conditions. The 2007 election was fought very, very clearly on the proposition of whether Australians wanted fair and decent working conditions or they wanted the now Leader of the Opposition’s Work Choices plans. The Australian people spoke in 2007, and they rejected Work Choices. They rejected it because of its power in stripping away pay and conditions. They rejected it because of the insecurity it gave them, never knowing if that was the day that they would be presented with an Australian workplace agreement that took basic conditions away. They rejected it because of the insecurity and unfairness of never knowing if that was the day they would be told that they no longer had a job and that they had no right to look for a remedy or contest the reasonableness or fairness of their dismissal.

These things were not abstract; these things were real. They were real for people like Sonya and Chrissie who feature in reports analysing the impact of Work Choices. They worked in aged care, a 24-hour industry, and they lost their penalty rates under Australian workplace agreements. They told in the lives of people like Jo, a young casual kitchenhand who faced pressure to sign an AWA against her will. For three months she refused, so the boss refused to give her any shifts. It is this kind of unfairness that we have eradicated with our Fair Work system. It is exactly this kind of unfairness that will be back if the Leader of the Opposition has the opportunity, as Prime Minister, to resurrect his much-loved Work Choices.