Page 3875 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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There is a range of other issues that are probably worth addressing. Mr Mulcahy and those on the other side of the chamber go on to say, “Times are prosperous and you are seeing real wages growth. Don’t worry. This package will be fine.” They are saying that everything seems to be good. There is no doubt that people are better paid and that rates of unemployment are low. But what is the other side of that equation? The other side of that equation is that we are seeing increased casualisation of the workforce, increased levels of part-time work—

Mrs Burke: It’s called choice, Simon.

MR CORBELL: It is not choice.

Mrs Burke: Of course it is choice.

MR CORBELL: It is not choice. I will take Mrs Burke up on this question. The overwhelming majority of those people who were surveyed who currently have part-time or casual work indicated they want full-time work. It is not choice. They want a decent full-time job. So this notion of flexibility, this notion of choice is a nonsense. Most people want greater certainty. They want greater certainty of employment, greater guarantee of employment. How can you raise your family, how can you plan your future, how can you create the legacy you want to leave for your children when you do not know whether you are going to be working in six months time?

Mrs Burke: It gives people a flexible lifestyle.

MR CORBELL: Those are the issues. These are not lifestyle choices.

Mrs Burke: Of course they are.

MR CORBELL: Mrs Burke says that this is a wonderful lifestyle choice. Some people do choose, but most people want more than they have when it comes to part-time and casual work. They want greater certainty and security of employment. How can you participate as a citizen of society without those guarantees?

Of course this wonderful age of prosperity has had other impacts, for example, the highest level of individual household debt in Australian history and the crippling burden that that is placing on Australian families, Australian workers and Australian individuals. We have the highest hours of work undertaken of any OECD country. We are the most productive country in the OECD in terms of hours worked. We have the highest average number of hours worked of any industrialised nation in the Western world, to use that classification.

These are not solely wonderful, rosy times. Families face less time for themselves, less time for their children, less time to enjoy the benefits of their labour because of the reforms that have been put in place since 1996. That is occurring because of the provisions that are already in place, and these changes will only make those things worse for low-income earners, children and young people—

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member’s time has expired.

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