Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 October 2018) . . Page.. 4489 ..
union stickers on hard hats, Eureka Stockade flags and union barbecues on worksites, instead of doing their utmost to do better to provide a safe environment for workers.
The Eureka Stockade flag is a great symbol of resistance in our nation—a symbol of solidarity for the goldminers during the rebellion, for shearers during the 1891 strike, for labourers during the green bans, for Gough Whitlam’s supporters on that notorious day in 1975, and now for construction workers on building sites across the country. The flag is a reminder of a worker’s right to organise. It reflects workers’ rights to take collective action, to protect their rights and conditions, to stand by each other and to stand up for their progressive values, values that continue to benefit us all. It is a reminder of the sacrifices that have been made in order to make Australia what it is today. The Eureka flag is a sign of mateship, camaraderie and solidarity. It is not a drain on productivity or a sign of an unsafe workplace.
Attacks on freedom of expression in the workplace, like the attempted crackdown on the Southern Cross, are not merely matters of symbolism; rather, they are the latest volley in the campaign by the Liberals to suppress trade unionism and collective action in this country. It is no secret that the ACT Labor government strongly opposes the intent and application of the ABCC to remove the rights of working people to actively engage with their union representatives to limit workers’ rights to these expressions of free speech.
As I said, the ABCC typifies the Liberals’ ideology that working people should not have a voice. Their agenda is clear across the economy. It is seen in the Australian public service’s draconian social media policies that you mentioned, Madam Assistant Speaker; in the way the commonwealth sits idle while wage theft is rampant and penalty rates are cut for the most vulnerable workers. It is seen in the way, just over 12 months ago, the media was tipped off to a raid on a union office that resulted in nothing but shame for the federal coalition government; and it is seen in this place when those opposite speak time and again against bills that seek solely to benefit workers.
We believe in the right to free speech, whether the voice of the few or the collective voice of the many. We believe consultation and collaboration between workers and employers is a crucial element of improving health and safety performance in the workplace. We will continue to work towards ensuring that workers have their voices heard, that workers have a right to representation and that ACT workers can go home safely at the end of each day.
MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (3.48): I rise to speak about the importance of freedom of speech and association in workplaces, a freedom that is coming under increasing attack from the so-called Liberal Party, the free speech champions of Australia. Just ask them. Workers are under attack for freely choosing to associate with an organisation dedicated to their safety and to fighting for their fair pay. Increasingly we are seeing big business favoured over workers, freedoms trampled and hard-won rights and conditions eroded. This can all be laid at the feet of the Liberal Party.
Freedom of speech is fundamental to our society. But we have seen a crusade by this federal Liberal government, aided and abetted by the local Liberals here, against