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Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Page: 4950

Workplace Relations


Mr FALINSKI (Mackellar) (15:00): My question is to the Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation. Will the minister advise the House of what the government has done to secure the rule of law on Australia's construction sites? Would a different approach achieve the same result?


Mr LAUNDY (ReidMinister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation) (15:01): I thank the member for Mackellar for his question and note that, around the country, not just in Mackellar, in the last 4½ years, 35,000 small and family businesses have opened up in the construction sector, creating 200,000 new jobs. Compare that to Labor's last year in power, when 15,600 small and family businesses closed and 14,000 jobs in construction were lost. That's why we need the ABCC, the Australian Building and Construction Commission, and that's why we've empowered it to keep the rule of law on our building sites.

I'm asked the alternatives. I noted with interest that, on 17 May, the member for Hunter, in a Sky interview, said that John Setka had:

… been penalised on numerous occasions. Ask yourself what those prosecutions were for.

He went on to say:

… the history of mankind and our progress … has been built on civil disobedience.

I thought: 'A civil rights activist—John Setka?' So I thought I would take the advice of the member for Hunter and I'd check out his record. Fifty-nine convictions! They range across the following: assaulting police, five times; assault by kicking—classy!—five times; wilful trespass, seven times; resisting arrest, five times; theft, once; attempted theft by deception, once; intent to coerce, nine times; coercion, 10 times; adverse action, once. And he's been jailed twice for contempt of court. When the member for Hunter said 'civil disobedience', I thought, 'Mandela; Martin Luther King—John Setka? No! I don't think so!'

But this is the person that the Leader of the Opposition has done his secret deal with. And what do they want to do? They want to take the ABCC, the cop, off the beat, so their union mates can run riot and put at risk everything that has been created under the last 4½ years of a coalition government.

But, for all Mr Setka's shortcomings, of which there are many, when he was interviewed by Neil Mitchell on 18 May and Mitchell asked, 'Well, John, do you trust Bill Shorten?' John Setka's response was, 'Well, if he becomes Prime Minister, ask me six months later. I mean, I don't know.' Not even John Setka trusts the Leader of the Opposition. It is not just the people of Australia who have worked out the Leader of the Opposition; it is his union mates, who, having done secret deals with him, after all that is said and done still do not trust the Leader of the Opposition. And they are wise not to. We must make sure he remains the Leader of the Opposition, never Prime Minister of this country.