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Monday, 18 June 2001
Page: 27709

Mrs MOYLAN (3:22 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business. Would the minister inform the House what the government is doing to create jobs in the Australian manufacturing sector? What threats exist to continued job growth in this important sector, and are there any alternative policies in this area?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business) —I very much thank the member for Pearce for her most excellent question. Members would be aware that on the weekend the Australian Metal Workers Union claimed that employment in the manufacturing sector had fallen by some 75,000 in the life of the Howard government. Let me make it very clear that this claim by the Metal Workers Union is wrong. It is absolutely and completely false. The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that, since May 1996, employment in Australian manufacturing has actually increased by over 10,000 workers. The metal workers also announced on the weekend a $400,000 marginal seats advertising campaign to support the Beazley opposition. Last week in Workforce, the newsletter of the Metal Workers Union, Doug Cameron was saying, `Economic circumstances forced us to make some tough decisions.' Then he goes and spends $400,000 on an undeclared political donation to the Australian Labor Party, on top of the $680,000 the Metal Workers Union gave last year.

Any claim by the Metal Workers Union, allegedly in protection of jobs, comes a bit rich from a union whose leaders are substantially a bunch of New Age economic Luddites. Last year, the Metal Workers Union masterminded Campaign 2000, a job destroying campaign directed at no fewer than 50,000 employers in the metal industry around Australia. Just last week, a Metal Workers Union picket line, led by no less a person than Craig Johnston, the Victorian state secretary of the union, conducted a smash and grab raid on two Victorian businesses and caused no less than $300,000 worth of damage. I quote from the Age newspaper:

A man used a crowbar to smash down the entrance to the skilled offices in Whitehorse Road. Once inside, a group of about 40 men tossed computers on the floor, upturned desks, hurled chairs through windows and smashed pot plants while scared staff stood by.

This is the economic equivalent of a home invasion masterminded by a union affiliated to the Australian Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition says he wants to strengthen unions' right of entry. Obviously this is the kind of goon squad activity that the Leader of the Opposition has in mind.

Honourable members interjecting—

Mr SPEAKER —The House will come to order.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Burke is warned.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Prospect is warned.

Mr ABBOTT —This is the union which actively encouraged violence at the S11 protest last year. This is the union which is now preparing protests at the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference later this year. This is the union from which the Leader of the Opposition is happy to accept $680,000 a year. I call on the Leader of the Opposition to reiterate the former Labor government's commitment to low tariffs. If the Leader of the Opposition had any decency, any integrity and any ticker, he would immediately repudiate this union's disgraceful conduct. He would repudiate the comrades of the AMWU.