Page 4840 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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MRS BURKE: I present the following papers:

WorkChoices funding—Media releases by the Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, dated 2 November 2005—

Agreement making.

Australian Fair Pay Commission.


Unlawful termination.

What really is at the heart of this matter? It would not be anything to do with union membership by any chance, would it? I remember my colleague Mr Mulcahy saying that the ALP is hopelessly beholden to the trade union movement. Since 1995-96 trade unions have donated over $47 million to the ALP. I know that Mr Mulcahy referred to that previously. I will not go into that now and embarrass those opposite even further.

The union movement simply has no interest in helping small business. That is clear. Its campaign against workplace reform has been predicated on the idea that no employee can trust their employer and that all employers are heartless animals that cannot wait for the chance to exploit or sack members of their work force. I could go on and on. It really gets down to the fact that, deep down, union leaders know that their scare campaign based on evil bosses is not realistic and is not the reality of small business in the workplace. It is an absolute disgrace that we have yet another ridiculous motion on the notice paper and that again we have a select committee in progress that will do all of this work, and more.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (3.49): It is interesting that we have another motion to enable the prophets of doom opposite to revel in their belated condemnation of some very sensible workplace reforms that were passed by the Australian parliament the other day. The dilemma for those opposite is that, at the time of the lowest union membership since records were kept, we also have the lowest rate of disputation for something like 30 years. We have the lowest unemployment for something like 30 years. We have the strongest jobs growth in recent memory, with more growth to come—

Mr Stanhope: So why change the system? Ideology, is it?

MR SMYTH: That is your problem, Chief Minister. You do not listen to anybody. You have this bloated ego that must block your ears so that you cannot hear what people are saying. Why do you have to change? You have to change because the rest of the world is catching up, Chief Minister. You are happy to sit here, do nothing, not make decisions and twiddle your thumbs. While you are off on your social justice agenda, other jurisdictions around Australia are getting ahead of us.

Mr Stanhope: Which employers are calling for it?

MR SMYTH: We used to have the best budgetary position in the country. We do not any more.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Smyth, resume your seat just for a moment. Cease interjecting, Chief Minister. Mr Smyth, direct your comments through the chair.

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