Page 3791 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005
to discuss the disastrous effect this legislation will have on the vibrancy of our community and the ability of our citizens to maintain a holistic approach to life.
Trends to push employees on to the individual secret contracts, which my colleagues have outlined, and thus reduce the number of basic protected conditions will mean not only a less secure working environment but could also mean the loss of penalty rates for out-of-ordinary work. The result of this will be a tendency to treat weekends and overtime work just like normal time. The long-term effect of this will be a tendency for workers to strive for the extra mile in the workplace, I suspect at the expense of family, friends and community.
We will see fewer volunteers using their weekends to help those who are less fortunate than themselves—so much part of the fabric of our society in the ACT—because they will be busy competing for their next individual contract at work. We will see mums having to give up getting to their son’s soccer game so that they can finalise that essential report, or dads missing their kids’ important recital because it is just as cheap for their boss to get them in at night to finish that inquiry submission.
This legislation unfairly targets those who have additional commitments other than their employment. For example, in a completely fluid and competitive employment environment such as the one created through a removal of legislative protections, mothers who seek to involve themselves in their child’s upbringing and simultaneously have a career will be largely prevented from doing this because they will not be able to compete with single people who have no commitments and who, therefore, can offer themselves at any time of the day or night to attend their place of employment.
The individuals who choose to have a family or contribute to their community at large are the ones who ensure our nation and our community remain strong and vibrant. They should not be punished because they take pride in their society and pride in their family and seek to protect our international reputation as the lucky country.
The government has failed to take into account the realities of life when drafting this legislation. Instead of championing rhetoric about flexibility and freedom of movement, perhaps they should have considered the application of their changes. For example, consider a young person entering the work force or a disabled person. How on earth do these people attempt to negotiate from anything reflecting a position of strength without the collective and legislative protection they formerly enjoyed?
Steven Fielding, the new Family First senator from Victoria, articulated this very well when he asked, “When was the last time your boss invited you in for a cup of coffee and the two of you negotiated your wages and conditions?” He has a very good point. This quote was part of an article published in the Canberra Times just yesterday, demonstrating that all sides of the political spectrum are opposed to this legislation. It is detrimental to families; it harms communities; it undermines general societal life; and in the long term it will mean a deteriorating economy.
For all those reasons, Mr Howard and Mr Andrews need to give up their irrational IR crusade and instead look to their representational responsibilities, look to what their constituents are saying. Over 70 per cent of Australians are saying no to these changes. It is about time Howard listened to them.