Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3385 ..
Later in April last year a court ruled that a Canberra school cleaning business that underpaid migrant workers—some of the most vulnerable workers in this town—and asked them to sign agreements they did not understand breached the Fair Work Act.
United Voice Union, another union Mr Wall has passionate feelings towards—or against—launched a case against company director Angelo Di Dio in the Federal Court on behalf of 22 workers in 2015 alleging in the court documents that some were owed almost $25,000. That is $25,000 to these vulnerable workers. Most of these workers were S’gaw Karen refugees from Thailand and Burma who spoke little English and spent two decades in refugee camps in Thailand before they were resettled in Australia.
The company, which was contracted to clean 10 public schools in the ACT, repeatedly denied these allegations. However, the court found, and it was reported in the Canberra Times last year, that those allegations were true, in fact, and ordered the company to pay back those employees the money they were entitled to. Of course, the union was delighted with the win and congratulated the workers for fighting a two-year legal battle for their entitlements because they wanted the truth to be told about this particular employer, whom Mr Wall represented in this place.
Mr Wall is very happy to represent people who have clearly the breached the Workplace Relations Act, but when it comes to vulnerable workers he says they are not allowed to join up to the union and have their interests represented in this place by members on this side of the Assembly. It is perfectly fine for us to do that, and we will continue to do that. We are proud union members, all of us, and we will absolutely stand up for the rights of unions to organise and represent their interests in this place, as would Mr Wall on any occasion that he does.
He suggests that employers should have all the glory and be the only ones represented in this place, but then he comes in here and represents an employer who breaks the law. It is apparently okay for that to happen, but when it comes to unions and workers who are being underpaid or being treated unfairly in their workplace it is not okay for them to be represented.
This motion is completely out of order but unsurprising. It reaffirms what we all know: the Canberra Liberals are haters of unions in the ACT, and Mr Wall is the greatest hater of all. I do not support the motion and was happy to hear the support from this side of the chamber for unions in this town.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.35): When you are an opposition devoid of any ideas or plans, when you are an opposition without purpose or decision, when you are a party without unity or conviction, what do you do? You bring a motion such as this one us today. You decide to talk about the things you are against, not for.
What are the opposition against, Madam Speaker? They are against workers and their representatives. They are against unions, and it is disgraceful. Unions have helped