Page 3758 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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Pat Power, bishop for Canberra and Goulburn; Uniting Church president, Dean Drayton all condemned these laws in the most unambiguous terms.

One would have thought, having regard to some of the expressions of opinion that we hear from the other side in relation to the values espoused by people such as Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Jensen, that there might have a little bit more thought by members opposite put into their unthinking, unequivocal and unambiguous support of the totality of the Liberal government’s industrial relations package. But that is what we have. In the face of criticisms that I would have expected from people such as Cardinal Pell, Catholic bishop Pat Power, Archbishop Jensen and a raft of other archbishops and bishops from around Australia, I would have though that there would have at least been some chord of sympathy or empathy for the sorts of views and the trenchant criticisms being expressed by these leaders of the community in relation to this industrial relations package.

Once again, it indicates the extent to which we have these split values—the standing up and thumping of the chest in relation to values that are expressed by these particular very, very significant Australians in relation to certain issues of Australian law and society but when it comes to a need to step straight into line, fall in behind the Prime Minister and his Liberal Party neoconservative cronies in the big house, Brendan Smyth is there, “Yes, sir; no, sir; yes, sir; no, sir; three bags full; just tell me what you want and I will do it.” We see it in relation to industrial relations as we see it, of course, in relation to anti-terrorism. “If my federal leaders say it, I will do it.” Here we have, in the face of trenchant criticism from people that they all normally respect enormously—

MR SPEAKER: The minister’s time has expired.

MR GENTLEMAN: Chief Minister, are there any other aspects of these laws on which the community has expressed concern?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Gentleman. There are, indeed. We would need the question times for the rest of the year to even touch on the range of criticisms of these laws and the impact that these laws will have on individuals within the community, within our societies, and of course, most seriously, on families. Those are criticisms that have been expressed from every quarter, and, perhaps most vocally in terms of the opposition’s cohorts, by Senator Barnaby Joyce. We see it across the spectrum. For example, the three national secretariats for women have spoken out against this.

Even today, the Salvation Army’s John Dalziel joined the chorus of condemnation from Catholic, Anglican and Uniting Church leaders by also pointing out that it is people who are desperate for a job, the marginalised and the disadvantaged, who will be most affected by this; it is those people who are desperate for work who, of course, will be those who are forced and intimidated into sacrificing rights that we have taken as a given in Australia for decades, if not for more than the last century. It demonstrates the great problem with these so-called reforms.

How will workers ever get their entitlements back once they have been forced to give them up for no compensation? Why would an employer suddenly return penalty rates or public holiday pay or leave loading? We all know they won’t. We all know that is the nature of the world and the nature of how these particular proposals will play out in future.

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