Workplace Relations

23 Oct 2019 speech

I'm just going to address the member opposite's points. On the matter of unions, they are not working in the interests of their members. We know, for example, that they're spending the hard earned money of their members on funding the campaigns of those opposite. I don't see how that helps a single worker in Australia. Worse than that, we've heard so regularly from the Attorney-General recently about the disgusting behaviour, in particular of the CFMMEU, that is directed at individual workers on workplaces around the nation. I'm just going to quote from the Attorney-General. And I'll keep putting this on the record because it's important for each and every Australian to understand the disgusting behaviour of the CFMMEU. The Attorney-General said to the House recently, 'One of the very important reasons that unlawful behaviour on worksites must be stopped is that it puts the safety of workers at risk.' These are really important issues. As the Attorney-General went on to say: 'We know that the CFMMEU has racked up $16 million in court fines for unlawful behaviour for over 2,000 breaches. What is less well-known is that many of those breaches themselves relate to violations of occupational health and safety standards.' The Victorian public sector has been targeted and we know that the Queensland Public Sector Union now has a list of 17 sites that they will not let their safety inspectors visit because they don't feel safe, and that's because of union activity on those sites. This is just appalling behaviour. No-one deserves to be treated like this. No-one deserves to feel unsafe in their workplace. We need Australian workers to feel safe when they're working on a government site and most certainly when they are on building sites and other private sector sites that we know the unions and, in particular, the CFMMEU are constantly targeting.

But what I really want to talk about today is the importance of jobs. You don't have workers when you don't have jobs, and we on this side of House understand that. That is what the Labor Party time and time again fails to remember. When we talk about looking after the interests of Australian workers, we are looking after their No. 1 interest, which is making sure that they have a job. Since 2013, we on this of the House have created over 1.4 million jobs—and we are getting on with the job of delivering 1.25 million more over the next five years. Over the last year, full-time employment has increased 2.2 per cent, with more than eight out of 10 jobs created in the last year being full-time jobs. We've lowered the tax rate for small and medium businesses—which employ
more than seven million Australians—so that they can grow and employ more people in their communities. We're investing $100 billion worth of nation-building infrastructure projects, which will create jobs in each and every state across Australia. I'm very fortunate that my electorate of Boothby is seeing a lot of road upgrades and level crossing grade separations, which is creating a huge amount of work in my home state of SA. We're also investing money than $200 billion in our national defence capability, which includes the delivery of 57 new naval vessels—each one being built in Australia, using Australian steel and creating more than 25,000 jobs for hardworking Australians.

Only our government is interested in creating jobs for Australians and making sure that our economy is in the position to do so, so that businesses can get on with employing other Australians. As a result of our responsible economic management, wage increases continue to outpace increases in the cost of living. Importantly, living standards also continue to increase, with net disposable income per capita rising one per cent—to be 2.7 per cent higher through the year. To support wages growth, our government is setting the right conditions for a strong economy and for jobs growth, and a healthy labour market will help drive wages growth for workers. Also, thanks to our government's plan for lower taxes, workers will keep more of the money they work so hard to earn. Those opposite like to lecture us and make all sorts of wild and incorrect claims, but we know the truth: we are the party that is completely focused on Australian workers and on delivering jobs for Australian workers—and we will continue to do so through a raft of different mechanisms, whether it's lowering taxes for small and medium businesses, investing in our defence capability or fixing our roads and busting congestion around the nation.