PMB - Workplace Relations

Private Members' Business - Workplace Relations


It is an absolute pleasure to be upstairs in the Federation Chamber in between votes in the closing loopholes legislation in the House below us. It's interesting that the member for Casey said that he wanted people to get paid higher wages. It was nice to hear someone from the opposition benches suggesting they wanted higher wages, but I'd ask the member for Casey to back that with some of his actions. He has just left the floor of the House of Representatives where once again he voted to keep wages low by attempting to put this legislation, which is incredibly important, out into never-never land. That is on top of all of the other stalling tactics that have been used by the opposition since the first tranche of closing loopholes came into parliament. We have just heard that detail downstairs.

I want to thank the member for Hawke for bringing this on in private members business today because, of course, Labor wants to get wages moving—but not just that. The pendulum in industrial relations has swung way too far to the right and we have waited a decade to bring fairness back to the table. The best example of that is the section in the closing loopholes legislation that deals with labour hire and stopping labour hire being used to undercut agreements made between workers and their employers. This has been going on for a decade and has meant that we have had wages under cut. It has meant that people have lost ground in terms of their wages. This all becomes critically important in a cost-of-living crisis, of course. Labor has always stood for a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and this legislation, the closing loopholes legislation, supports that.

I just want to touch on the right to disconnect aspects of this legislation and explain it to some of the people in this room if they do not understand. This was something that was brought to my attention previous to my time in this parliament when, as a principal, I had teachers come to me, to say, 'It's great that my team leader's working so hard but, seriously, my phone goes ping at 9.30 at night and it's a message from my team leader saying, 'Can we do something to address this?' The solution wasn't that difficult. You can set up your emails with a clock and a timer. So you can have the bright idea but it doesn't land in the inbox until 9.00 the next day if you get the settings right. These are things that employers can seek to fix. Some of the solutions are incredibly simple and incredibly easy.

Imagine if you are a teacher or a parent of a couple of kids and you're getting messages at 10 o'clock at night. You might already be in bed asleep at 10 o'clock at night. I know as a younger teacher with a young family I would have been asleep before 10 o'clock at night. These things are avoidable. It just needs care and attention to avoid them. This legislation means that people will understand that they do have the right to disconnect, that they are paid for work and, if people want to negotiate around that in specific purposes, then I'm sure employers will find a way to do that. I'm sure that you can set this up reasonably.

It is clear that the member for Dickson—the Leader of the Opposition—and the Liberals and Nationals have voted against this legislation every step of the way. They've voted against a fair deal for workers. They've voted against swinging that industrial relations law back to a fair place. They voted against legislation that would stop people undercutting wages. These are all things that we don't want to see, particularly in a cost-of-living crisis. But, as we know, they don't want to see anybody get a fair day's pay. They don't want to see people get a pay rise anymore than they want to see low and middle Australia get a tax cut. That's the bottom line here.

Those opposite will say no to everything to slow everything down, to push everything into the never-never, because they haven't figured out yet that, after 10 years, workers have had enough of that and they want a fair deal.

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