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Tuesday, 24 October 2017
Page: 11865

Mr BRIAN MITCHELL (Lyons) (18:23): Like the member for Whitlam, I came in here prepared to speak on a bill before the House—the Fair Work Laws Amendment (Proper Use of Worker Benefits) Bill 2017—which of course I will do. But the raids today have to be dealt with. What an absolutely disgraceful misuse of government power to allow a police force to be used in this way, to use the power of the state against your political enemies. It should send a shiver down the spine of anybody who cares about the way a democracy should run—to use the power of the state, the police, against your political enemies. And what crime are we talking about? An allegation that 10 years ago some paperwork wasn't done. That warrants a police raid? It is absolutely outrageous, particularly when you think that just in the last few months Nigel Hadgkiss, the minister's hand-picked henchman at the building commission, resigned in disgrace for breaking the law. This man, the right hand of the employment minister, actually broke the law. Were the police called in? Was he dragged away in handcuffs? Was there a raid on the minister's office? No. The man quietly resigned, was quietly sent on his way.

And then we learnt that the minister knew of his transgression for a full year and kept him in the office. So it's okay when your friends break the law, but woe betide anybody you disagree with, woe betide anybody that disagrees with this government, because the full force of the state will be down on your head. There will be NBN raids against senators for speaking out against the NBN policy of this government. There will be AWU raids against the union from 10 years ago. It just beggars belief that we live in a democracy in the 21st century and these are the depths that this government and this Prime Minister—who, prior to being in politics, was well known as a lawyer and somewhat of a social progressive—will go to. This is how far he has descended. This is the abyss that he has come to in his desperate attempt to cling to government. Nothing is too low for this Prime Minister, as he clings to government, as he grapples with the right wing of his own party.

I can't understand it. When I know police resources are stretched and we are told all the time that they have to make choices about what they can and what they can't do. In Tasmania, we've got five AFP officers for the entire state. I'm pleased to say that the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has promised that a Labor government will restore AFP officers to Hobart Airport, and not before time. AFP officers were taken out of service by this government. We will restore those officers.

Just yesterday, a pair of bikies was dragged off a plane at Hobart Airport. I believe Senator Abetz and Senator Bushby were on the plane. I'm not sure if the officers dragged the wrong people off the plane, but a pair of bikies were dragged off the plan. They weren't taken off the plane by AFP officers. That plane was on the tarmac and Tasmanian police had to be called in. They had to drive into the airport—because they're not based at the airport—and take the bikies off, and then the plane could go on its way. There was an hour delay, because Tasmanian police had to be called out because AFP officers are not based at the airport. That's the effect of this government. There are no AFP officers at Hobart Airport, but you've got AFP officers to raid union offices for alleged transgressions of 10 years ago.

Why is this government so keen to push this latest legislation before us through? Because it deals with their political enemies. It is like groundhog day. Ten years ago, the former coalition government, the Howard government, thought it would be a brilliant idea to take on the workers of this country with that dreadful Work Choices legislation. 'That'd be a good idea!    Let's take on the unions and take on the workers of this country, cut their conditions, cut their pay, cut their penalty rates.' That worked out really well! Labor was swept into office in 2007.

We have an election in two years time. If you want to go to an election on this issue—the issue of taking on workers, reducing penalty rates, cutting workers' conditions, keeping wages flat and keeping work insecure—we would be very happy to accommodate you. The workers of this country—the employees, the cashiers, the office staff, the police, the nurses, the teachers—deserve better than what they're getting from this government. This government is trying to make it easier and easier to cut workers' pay, to cut workers' conditions, to make work more insecure, to make work more flexible for the employer, and to take away the rights, the conditions and the fairness of what it means to be a worker and a citizen in this country.

We've just seen the disgraceful, unbelievable situation where penalty rates in this country were actually reduced, at a time when wages have never been flatter. Since records started wages have never been flatter, and you've reduced penalty rates. Corporate profits are at an all-time high, a record high. So let's reduce the penalty rates for people working on Sundays. Let's make it harder for them to make ends meet. With power prices going through the roof, let's make it harder for people who depend on Sunday penalty rates to pay their bills. Bravo! Bravo! While you're cutting taxes for millionaires and people earning over $180,000 a year, you're making it harder for people on modest incomes to make a living in this country. What an absolute disgrace you are. In Tasmania, United Voice—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): Order. It being 6.30 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 192B. The debate is adjourned and resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.