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Tuesday, 5 June 2001
Page: 27237

Mr CREAN (2:01 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Are you aware that, according to the preliminary report released to One.Tel creditors today, the entitlements of One.Tel workers may be at risk because the directors of the company employing them moved significant assets, including the spectrum licence and the customers, out of One.Tel Ltd in late March? Prime Minister, do you condone such behaviour in denying workers their just entitlement? If not, will you now support Labor's private member's bill that would prohibit such activity?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I do not deny workers their just entitlements. In fact, it has been the actions of the Treasurer in my government, my action and also, I might note, the exhortations of the Labor Premier of New South Wales that have resulted, I am pleased to see, in both Mr Keeling and Mr Rich offering substantially, as I understand it, to refund the bonuses that I do not believe they should have been paid in the first place. As to the preliminary report, I have not read it and I do not intend to adopt the extrapolations of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in relation to that. I might add that I am not aware, on my understanding of what the opposition are putting forward, that the legislation they have in mind would achieve the objectives that were outlined by the deputy leader. I would simply make the point to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that you were part of a government that had 13 years to do something about workers' entitlements and you failed miserably for those 13 years to protect any of them.

Mr Crean —I seek leave to table the report I referred to.

Leave granted.