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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 February 2018) . . Page.. 510 ..


Often motions such as these are moved in the belief that they will bring, and with the intention of bringing, this Assembly together. Not so today. But I believe that sometimes that which divides us is as important as that which brings us together. I respect the right of those on the other side of the chamber to oppose this motion today, as they have done in newspapers recently and for years before. The insistence by the Labor Party on the fair treatment of working people divides Australians. I am proud to stand on the workers’ side of that debate.

What is the purpose of my motion? It is to encourage government, those who sit on this bench, to make the welfare of working people a priority, the highest priority. It is to recognise that the federal Liberal government has systematically perverted the industrial relations system to allow crooks to rip off working people. That is why we need to change the rules. It is to encourage the government, in completing its consultation on the procurement code, to prioritise the voices of working people as well as honest local businesspeople.

This motion is not hard, though. This motion, despite being controversial, is easy. My more religious colleagues in this place should find it very easy: do not steal. I have been informed that that is one of the Ten Commandments, for those who are into that sort of thing. What should not be stolen? Well, anything, according to me. But I understand that there are differences of view, so I will need to clarify. Under the industrial relations regime run by the federal Liberal government, we have seen the blossoming of theft as a business model: stealing superannuation; stealing overtime; stealing wages; stealing subcontractor payments; and stealing by underfunding workplace safety: stealing fingers, stealing toes and stealing lives.

As a member of the Assembly who will be voting on a budget in a few months, I have a strong view that none of the expenditure we approve should be stolen by others. Whilst I know it is a controversial view, I would hope all members would agree that this Assembly should oppose theft. I reckon there is no difference between shoplifting and garnisheeing wages; there is no difference between common fraud and skimming superannuation; and there is no difference between the thugs who break a person’s hand by stomping on it and the boss who causes the same injury by running an unsafe workplace.

In saying all that, let me directly address the concerns of those lobbyists I have seen in the media objecting to an ACT government procurement code. I understand, respect and embrace the views of honest, hardworking local businesspeople. I was one. We should reward those who conduct an honest business that rewards its employees and subcontractors fairly.

Some commentary claiming to be from the business sector has actually undermined honest local businesspeople. We have been warned by one or two individuals that a code will undermine business. The only business it will undermine is crooks’ ability to steal taxpayers’ money from working people. Do you know what I have to say to them? Unfortunately, I cannot tell you, because it would be unparliamentary. I will give anyone who cares to listen this advice, and I hope the opposition takes my


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