I feel I should respond to Senator Cameron, if only briefly, to say I am concerned about vulnerable workers in this country, but I do think it is incumbent upon us to remind the Senate and the Australian people that those who have traded away workers’ entitlements to the detriment of the workers themselves have basically been the union bosses. The union bosses have engorged themselves and their organisations at the expense of some of our lower paid workers. They’ve traded away concession penalty rates on Sunday and award rates to big business. I find it galling that Senator Cameron dares to stand up in this place saying how he’s the champion of vulnerable workers when his comrades on the other side of the chamber have been so diligent in selling out regular workers to big business. We have seen the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Bill Shorten, receive campaign funds from a union, his own union, that traded away workers’ entitlements.
Ultimately, this is a cosy stitch-up between big business and the union movement. I am not interested in furthering a cosy stitch-up. I’m interested in independent enterprise. I’m interested in fostering free enterprise in this country and allowing people to have jobs and businesses to actually make money. I make no bones about that. I think a successful business should be able to make some money and provide for its employees. It will further investment in this country.
I have grave reservations about this bill, but I am trying to uphold, with Senator Leyonhjelm, the principle that, should this bill be successful, independent businesses are independent businesses. A franchise shouldn’t just be an extension of the franchisor. It should be an independent business in its own right. Those on the other side of the chamber want to see them dealt with as big businesses so that their workforces can come under the spell of having their entitlements traded away to the benefit of the unions themselves. These are the real issues at work here. I don’t believe that more regulation is necessary. I think, in actual fact, what we should be doing is taking away the burdens and the impediments to people being productive and to being successful in business in this country. That means we need to deregulate. It means we have to get the unions away from deregulating or from trading away workers’ entitlements. We need to get government out of the system. We can fuel prosperity across this whole country should we go down that path. So, we are trying to improve what I think is a deeply flawed piece of legislation. It is built around the principle that independent businesses should be able to run independently under the rule of law rather than under the yoke of the union movement or under the yoke of oppressive government.
Chamber Senate on 4/09/2017 Item BILLS – Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 – In Committee Speaker: Bernardi, Sen Cory/ Parliment Transcript used for Reporting Truth in News