PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2020
SUBJECT: Morrison’s cut to wages and conditions.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING: Merry Christmas everybody. It's the last parliamentary sitting day for the year and it's been a very big year. But we leave Parliament today on a bit of a sour note. Yesterday the Government introduced legislation that would cut worker’s pay. For most of this year, the Government's been wearing a COVID mask, but as the pandemic recedes here in Australia and we take our masks off, we start to see the real face of the Liberal Party again. The party that cut penalty rates, the party that froze superannuation, the party that introduced WorkChoices, yesterday introduced legislation to cut worker’s pay. If you believe the newspapers today, the Government's in retreat. They're saying that they're not going to proceed with this and walk away from it, run away from it like a thief in the night. If that's the truth, that's a good thing. The Government should withdraw this bill today, cut out the cancer in it and start again. But even if they do that, they've revealed who they really are. They've shown us the true face of the Liberal Party again. Last Christmas, Scott Morrison went off to Hawaii and abandoned Australians in the middle of the bushfires. This Christmas, he has introduced legislation to cut worker’s pay. Frankly, it's hard to tell which one's worse. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: On the changes, or the proposed changes, they're talking about today, do you think they were a bit of an ambit claim, to use a union term? Or were they actually legitimately trying to renegotiate this?
CLARE: It is hard to tell. For most of the last few months, Scott Morrison has been pretending to be a latter day Bob Hawke trying to bring workers and employers together in this grand bargain to create an accord. Then he introduces legislation yesterday sneaking in a clause that he didn't tell anybody about that would cut worker’s pay. All this proves, all this tells you, is that the Liberal Party never changes. The same party that more than a decade ago got rid of a test that allowed workers to be paid less. Remember, WorkChoices lead to a million workers getting less pay and made it easier to sack people. The same party that did that introduced legislation yesterday that would allow workers to get their pay cut. The Liberal Party never changes. It's just for the most of the last 12 months, we've been focused on COVID, and as the threat of COVID recedes, we start to see the real Liberal Party again. The party that always wants to cut penalty rates, wants to freeze your super and wants to cut your pay.
JOURNALIST: Are there any amendments or tinkering with this bill that you'd be satisfied with or is a wholesale throw it out and start again?
CLARE: The Labor Party is the party of workers: blue collar workers, white collar workers, pink collar workers, no collar workers, and we will never vote for legislation here that is going to cut worker’s pay. That's what the Liberal Party does, and we will always fight to stop it. And just one more thing on that point. Have a look at what the Labor Party has been able to do, led by Anthony Albanese, just in the last 24 hours. On the second last day before Parliament rises, the Government tries to rush in legislation to cut worker’s pay, and the work that Anthony Albanese did yesterday in fighting this legislation has hopefully got the Government to turn heel and retreat today, and there'll be a lot of workers who will be better off next year and will have a better Christmas because of the fight that the Labor Party put up led by Anthony Albanese yesterday.
JOURNALIST: Sally McManus from the ACTU said there might not be a WorkChoices-style campaign around this, but she said they weren't ruling anything out. Do you think we could say large scale industrial activity around this in protest?
CLARE: The Government should learn from its mistakes. WorkChoices lead to a million Australians getting their salaries cut. This legislation has the potential to cut worker’s pay as well. There's another fight on the way as well. If the Government proceeds with freezing people's superannuation, that's going to leave even more Aussies worse off. WorkChoices lead to a million workers getting their pay cut. If they freeze people's super next year, that'll lead to 10 million Aussies getting their pay cut, their retirement pay cut. So, we will fight every step of the way, wherever the government tries to cut people's pay or cut their retirement income. If the Government has seen the writing on the wall and is retreating, then that's a good thing. Because if they put up a fight here, then the Labor Party will be standing in their way. Thanks very much.
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