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Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Page: 4957


Mr LAUNDY (ReidMinister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation) (15:28): There's 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back. It's just more of the same. Where is one policy that those opposite have that will create one job? Where is it? It's non-existent. It was a wholehearted 10 minutes defending the indefensible, as per usual—their union puppet masters—and bagging and creating class envy, which is the only trick of this one-trick pony opposition.

I would like to make a couple of points with respect to the shadow minister's comments regarding, firstly, appointments on the Fair Work Commission. I noted with interest last week that apparently, according to him, we've stacked the joint. I would draw to his attention that currently, among those sitting on the Fair Work Commission, it is 51 per cent put there by Labor versus 49 per cent from us. We are, of course, the 49 per cent.

I will also say that, as the Prime Minister said in question time, there's a very simple way for the ROC, the Registered Organisations Commission: the action would never have been taken if the union had provided the documentation on the authorisation for the $100,000 of—and here's the key—union members' money. It's not the union delegates' money, it's not union bosses' money, it's not the Labor Party's money and it's definitely not the Leader of the Opposition's money; it is union members' money. Why is it that those opposite fight so hard against transparency—and here's the other misnomer—of not just unions but any registered organisation, yet, at the same time, at the back end of the banking royal commission—you watch them—they'll be calling for company directors to be hanged, drawn and quartered? That behaviour, if found to be true, should absolutely be penalised, and I note that the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services has already made indications that there'll be a considerable stiffening of penalties on the corporate side of the fence, as there should be. But there should be responsibility on anyone that looks after anyone else's money. There should be transparency for anyone that looks after anyone—

Mr Champion: By banks?

Mr LAUNDY: Banks, shareholders or members, no matter who they are—for the member for Wakefield's attention—they should be accountable to their members. But there is not one iota—it would be easy to throw this out by saying, 'Here's the paperwork; here's where the Leader of the Opposition, when in charge of the AWU, had authorisation to give GetUp! 100 grand.' They can't produce it, so they want to play games—smokescreens by their union bosses. They are in here prosecuting slander and class warfare, which is exactly all they are: one-trick ponies.

In terms of accountability, those opposite have not one policy for one job. We are responsible on this side for the policy settings that have enabled over one million jobs the economy has created and have enabled businesses to take on bank debt, back themselves and employ people over the past 4½ years. I spoke today in question time of the need for the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the ABCC. Why? Because we have green shoots galore in construction.

Ms Butler interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): The member for Griffith is warned.

Mr LAUNDY: In the last year of the Labor government, in 2012-13, 15,500 small and family businesses in construction closed, with a net decrease of 14,000 jobs. In the past 4½ years in construction, with the rule of law restored, there has been a net increase of 35,600 businesses, amounting to an increase in employment in the sector of 200,000 people, driven predominantly by small and family businesses taking on bank debt, backing themselves and employing people. Across the board, there have been 150,000 additional small businesses opened over the past 4½ years. Compare that to the last 12 months of the Rudd-Gillard government, when there was a net decrease in businesses in this country of 61,000, irrespective of the business's size. But in the past 12 months, just in small and family businesses—businesses with turnover of $10 million or less—65,000 have opened. In other words, in the last 12 months under the Turnbull coalition government, more small and family businesses have opened than the net decrease in businesses, irrespective of size, under the previous Rudd-Gillard government. As they say, if you want more of the same, re-elect them. You'll see it again. They will roll over and pay back their secret deals with their secret union mates.

I spoke about reducing red tape yesterday in question time. It has been reduced by $6 billion for businesses in the last 4½ years, and there has been an $800 million reduction in red tape in the last financial year. There is the instant asset write-off of $20,000. Free trade agreements have been used in my electorate, especially by young Australian entrepreneurs of Chinese descent, leveraging their family networks to distribute back in mainland China. There is the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. There are new forms of financing including crowdfunding. In the start-up sector, there are tax concessions to angel investors and early-stage venture capital investors. What has happened? We've seen an increase of over 100 per cent in venture capital funds—not our work. It was AVCO, independent of government, availing us of that in the last few months. What we would see under those opposite would threaten all of that.

I do, again, want to make reference to something that my opponent said in his 10-minute diatribe. He mentioned penalty rates. Again, do you want to see hypocrisy? In 2010, the Fair Work Commission made a decision to reduce penalty rates in some awards. In 2010, the Labor Party were in control. There was not one word from any member opposite. Why? Because the Fair Work Commission was completely of their design. It was staffed with their people. It came up with the decision. There was not one word. That changed, however, in 2014, when they went into opposition. Again, in 2014, the Fair Work Commission reduced penalty rates for some awards. I quote directly the member for Gorton when he was asked about these penalty rate cuts:

We've always said that employment conditions should be considered properly and should be considered by the Fair Work Commission.

As he should do; they set it up. I agree with it. I'm arguing for the integrity of the Fair Work Commission.

The irony of where I find myself as the minister for industrial relations is that I am actually arguing for the integrity of the system—the Fair Work Act and the Fair Work Commission—that the Labor Party set up. What else did we get under the last Labor government? We got jobless queues growing by 206,000 in their six-year tenure. What have we had? We have had one million new jobs created in the economy over the past 4½ years. In the last 12 months, 417,000—80 per cent cent—of those jobs were full-time. It's a record. We are into our 18th month of positive employment growth—yet another record. We're into our 27th year of continued economic growth, while those opposite want to continually try to obfuscate their union mates, whom, at the end of the day, they are here to represent. I don't mind that, because my family come from a union background.

There are good union members in this country. There are good union delegates in this country. There are good unions in this country. The ABCC and the Registered Organisations Commission are there to hold to account those who fail that test. They are there to make sure that the rule of law on construction sites is adhered to. They are there to make sure that members' money is used appropriately. Is that fair? Yes, it is fair. It's absolutely fair. It's what every union member in this country should expect and, more importantly, be entitled to. If those opposite aren't going to insist on that happening, we are going to keep hearing cases of where it doesn't happen. Instead of coming in here and bagging the officials that hold rogue union delegates to account, they should come in here and condemn their abhorrent criminal behaviour. Do you hear 'boo'? No, you don't. You see secret deals being done by the Leader of the Opposition with a guy like John Setka, who has a rap sheet as long as your arm. As I said today in question time, no Australian would be proud of one iota of the 59 offences and nor would he be someone that they would want to associate with. However, that's not the case for the Leader of the Opposition. He is not only associating with him; he's relying on his votes so that he can maintain his slippery hold on leadership. If this country elects him, we are all up the creek without a paddle.