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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 October 2018) . . Page.. 4488 ..


In the Australia I grew up in, calling your boss a dill was a grand tradition, one that is under threat from the political correctness police in the Liberal Party. It is positively un-Australian. We have also seen aggressive approaches in the commonwealth public service and other places to the expression of views by police employees on social media, outside paid time and not leaking and not being racist or homophobic or bigoted in any way. Thankfully, due to the excellent work of the Community and Public Sector Union and the sensible approach often taken by our courts, disciplinary actions have generally been thrown out. What has not been thrown out is the intimidation by the extreme right-wing thought police.

Canberra should be a place where everyone gets to have their say. If someone wants to call me a dill, they should go for it. I get the average amount of abusive social media commentary for a left-wing female politician—and that is quite a lot. But I would never dream of trying to get someone sacked for it. If only the snowflakes on the right would do the same. I encourage all Canberra employers to back off on policing your employees’ thoughts. I encourage all Canberra employees to speak up and support each other—wear a union pin; wave a flag. When you go to work they are buying your labour, not your life.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Disability, Minister for Children, Youth and Families, Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Minister for Government Services and Procurement, Minister for Urban Renewal) (3.43): I thank Ms Cheyne for bringing the matter of freedom of speech in Canberra’s workplaces to the attention of members of the Assembly. The right of freedom of expression in Australian workplaces in a respectful manner is important. The right of workers to have a voice, to be represented and to be heard is paramount to an effective, fair and safe workplace. This is something those opposite and their colleagues in the other place—the current Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison coalition government—do not appear to fully understand.

As a government one of our priorities is workplace safety. This is clear in the important work of WorkSafe ACT; the recent amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act to protect workers’ voices; the recently passed secure local jobs bill, which ensures the ACT government contracts only with businesses that uphold the highest ethical and labour standards; and in our willingness to review work health and safety compliance and enforcement, a report of which was released today, to ensure we are keeping up with best practice.

What we see from the Liberals, however, is an ideologically driven crusade against workers, their rights and, unfortunately, their safety. This ideological crusade is typified by the federal coalition government’s anti-union Australian Building and Construction Commission, the ABCC. Its singular focus is on stamping out the voice of the workers—a voice that speaks up about safety issues on site, a voice that represents the front line, and a voice that ensures that workers go home safely each day.

The particular voice the ABCC is working so hard to stamp out is the voice of workers’ unions. The ABCC and the federal coalition government are obsessed with


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