Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 5 August 2015) . . Page.. 2345 ..
ourselves of some of the important achievements that the Australian trade union movement have campaigned for and won on behalf of Australian workers over the years.
These include things that we now take for granted, such as the right for full-time workers to have four weeks annual leave; establishing the principle of equal pay for equal work, protection for workers against being required to undertake unreasonable hours of work with the introduction of an eight-hour working day; paid sick leave, long service leave and penalty rates; and establishing a woman’s right to be paid maternity leave.
Let us also remind ourselves that unions make a very significant contribution to the maintenance and improvement of health and safety in the workplace and that unions play a vital role in ensuring that workers are consulted on health and safety matters and their concerns are not simply ignored by employers.
It is my view that the active participation of trade unions in the health and safety field has helped to improve safety standards and reduce the number of serious accidents in the workplace. In the case of the construction industry, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union have also played a pivotal role in getting employees home safely by reducing workplace deaths on building sites, and I welcome the ongoing involvement of the CFMEU in this regard.
It is in this context that I find the current proceedings at the royal commission to be most disappointing. As others have commented, this Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption appears to amount to nothing more than an expensive show trial of union officials, a substantial misuse of public funds and a desperate and shameless misuse of a royal commission for the political means of the Liberal Party. Every Liberal Prime Minister since Billy McMahon has had at least one royal commission into trade unions, but our current Prime Minister appears to have taken this to a new low level.
It is important to reflect that most commentators seem to think that by the time this royal commission has come to a conclusion it will have cost the Australian taxpayer in the region of $80 million. In his first motion this morning, Mr Hanson quite rightly reminded this Assembly about the issue of domestic violence and the need to produce better outcomes for victims of family violence. However, the irony of our first motion this morning—
Dr Bourke: Point of order.
MADAM SPEAKER: Can we stop the clock? A point of order, Dr Bourke.
Dr Bourke: Madam Speaker, members of the opposition are continuously interrupting Mr Gentleman, which is unparliamentary.
MADAM SPEAKER: They do not actually seem to be succeeding in interrupting Mr Gentleman, and as you know—