Page 3878 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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Such policies are unlikely to deliver on the four goals espoused by the ALP—high growth, high incomes, low unemployment, and a fairer Australia ... The ALP workplace relations policy platform runs the risk of moving Australia further from those goals.

Those figures and statements from bodies that are used by the ALP are very telling indeed. They show that there are considerable inaccuracies in Ms McDonald’s motion, and it should be opposed.

These workplace reforms will continue to help ordinary Australians, especially ordinary young Australians moving into the workforce, to get ahead in life. I agree with Mr Corbell that it is a workers’ market at present, and it will continue to be. We do have a skills shortage, especially in the trades. There is immense potential for people going into the workforce now to be in that pleasant situation which I think Mr Mulcahy and I referred to that existed 30 or 35 years ago where you could go to an unemployment office and look at a few jobs and have a choice. That is something we did not see in the late seventies, in the eighties and, indeed, for much of the nineties.

I commend the federal government for what they are doing. It is going to help the people who matter most in this. It is the old Aussie battler who will be helped, rather than hindered, by these reforms.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (4.30), in reply: For the sake of the people who have put us in this place, it is good to have discussion and debate, and it is always good to be able to knock down spurious arguments from the opposite side. So I thank members for their contributions to the debate today, even if they are wrong.

I am disappointed that I did not hear from more of those opposite. It would have been good to hear the opinion of the leader of the opposition. I have been in this place when the leader of the opposition has declared himself to be the best friend of the CFMEU and proudly worn the CFMEU’s lapel badge on his lapel. I am curious to know where his mateship with the CFMEU lies in regard to workplace reform because I am pretty sure—in fact, I am quite positive—that the CFMEU is opposed to these proposed changes.

I will address each of the arguments put forward and address them as best I can. I will go in reverse order. Mr Stefaniak talked about earnings under AWAs being higher than under collective agreements or awards. It is important to look at those people who are actually on Australian workplace agreements. They are, in the main, senior executives. There are very highly paid people in the mining industry. There are a number of people in other highly paid areas that are on what are essentially individual contracts. That has always been the case. If we were to take away the figures that can be attributed to the senior executives, those in the mining industry and those in other highly paid industries who are on individual contracts, then the figures would go down quite significantly.

Mr Stefaniak mentioned Paul Keating’s speech in 1993, and I think Mr Seselja also referred to it earlier today. I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure that, in 1993, Mr Keating was speaking about the changes proposed by the then minister for industrial relations, Laurie Brereton. While I did not necessarily agree with some of those changes, there was a need for change. There is no two ways about that. But Laurie Brereton and

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