Media Releases


Industrial relations: government policy

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — I rise to speak on the matter of public importance raised by the member for Tarneit. When I first saw this matter I could not believe my eyes. Firstly, I take note that the member for Tarneit is not even here to support his matter. That shows how important he feels this matter is. Secondly, if you look at the wording, you see that the second item is factually incorrect. In the haste of putting the matter of public importance together the opposition failed to realise that the Shop Trading Reform Amendment (Easter Sunday) Bill 2011 was not the first bill passed by this Parliament.


It has been a sloppy attempt by the member to put this matter together.


It is quite ironic, because we have all been waiting for this big matter of public importance that was going to bring down the government. This was a matter that was going to make us return to the opposition benches. We can see that there is hardly a member of the opposition in the house. Every single speech by opposition members that we have heard thus far has been delivered in a very half-hearted manner, and they certainly do not speak with any conviction about what they believe. One must question if they believe in anything they have said.


I am pleased that the member for Tarneit has finally chosen to join us again. I welcome him back.


What we have heard here today is very interesting. We have heard a whole host of things from the opposition about supporting workers.


If we are being clear, this is not about supporting workers at all; it is about supporting the unions and union mates. Every single element of it is about that. The opposition members are not fair dinkum. They are not here to support workers, and if they were, they would have done a lot more in the 11 years that they were in government. They had 11 long years to do something about this, but unfortunately in those 11 years — long, dark years — they did absolutely nothing.

This matter was raised this week, the same week that the member for Tarneit and his opposition colleagues put the needs of their Labor mates in Canberra ahead of Victorian families by not allowing the Treasurer to attend an important GST summit. What hypocrisy! You did not support him. You could have paired him off, but you did not do it and you do not care. Instead all you continue to do is attack Victorian workers. That is what you do, and your federal colleagues ripped the guts out of us — $2.5 billion just ripped out. If you were fair dinkum, you would have taken that $2.5 billion and stood up for Victorian families — —


Ms Pike — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I draw your attention to the fact that the member is not referring to those opposite using the correct parliamentary terminology. He should understand that when he uses the word ‘you’ those comments are in fact directed to the Chair, and it is unparliamentary to refer to the Acting Speaker in those terms. The member needs to refer all his comments through the Chair, and therefore the use of the word ‘you’ is unparliamentary and inappropriate when referring to opposition members of Parliament. I ask you to bring the member back to using correct parliamentary terminology.


The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Tilley) — Order! I ask the member for Caulfield to be mindful of those points and to address the house through the Chair.


Mr SOUTHWICK — Let me continue.


The fact of the matter is that we have seen that Victorians will have a great result under this current government, a result that we would never have seen under the former government.


Let us look at this matter of public importance (MPI) that has been put forward, this very weak matter of public importance. Let us start with point 2, relating to the Easter Sunday trading bill, which was supposedly the first bill that we passed but in fact was not. The MPI is a bit unclear there, but that is okay. Let us proceed with what this means. There is nothing clearer than the fact that this is an attack on small business. This is, again, Labor Party payback to their union movement mates. We recall a $240 000 promise that was made to Labor’s union mates to try to stop Easter Sunday trading. Unfortunately for the unions that did not succeed. The $240 000 gift from the union movement to the Labor Party was a very poor decision, a very unwise choice, by them.


That sweetheart deal did not work out so well for Labor’s mates in the union movement.


We have to look at protecting families. We have to stop this cloak and dagger approach that has been continually adopted by the Labor Party. It used a whole lot of approaches during the Easter trading debate. We heard from the opposition about religious freedoms. We looked at the union fix. We looked at a whole lot of different things. What we did not look at was what the effect would be on many of the workers who are now able to work. The member for Tarneit has Cosco and Mitre 10 in his electorate. Those retailers were open over Easter for many years while he was in government. Certainly none of those workers were ever given overtime or double time during Easter, and the member for Tarneit was never in this house standing up for them then. Very conveniently he has forgotten that and has now tried to stand up for them while in opposition.


Labor had 11 long years to do something, but for those 11 long years the former Labor government did absolutely nothing.


Let us turn to the part of the MPI that looks at wage increases for Victorian public sector workers. The coalition government’s wages policy is well known. Increases above the guideline of 2.5 per cent are available to be negotiated where parties can achieve a genuine productivity offset. I am very disappointed that the opposition is unaware of exactly what productivity means. We have seen plenty of examples of this. Unfortunately every single project the former government did was done with budget blow-outs and was never delivered on time. Never once was a project delivered on budget — not once on budget. So in the language of the opposition, productivity is unfortunately unheard of — —


Ms Green — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I am afraid that I will have to ask the member for Caulfield to withdraw that comment.


He is misleading the house. I could go through a list of projects, including the bridge on the Greensborough Highway over the Plenty Gorge, that were actually delivered ahead of time and under budget. The things that are said in this house need to be factual, and I ask the member for Caulfield not to mislead the house with blanket comments.


The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Tilley) — Order! I have been listening intently, and I do not uphold the point of order.


Mr SOUTHWICK — Let me continue about the budget blow-outs under the former government. There was a huge number of budget blow-outs. We can talk about the desalination plant, the cost of which members of the public — the Victorian taxpayers — will have to live with for 30 years because they have been signed up


to a deal about which they unfortunately made no decision. Unfortunately they have been signed up for — we have been signed up for — a blow-out of $2.6 billion. The EastLink freeway project blew out by $2.5 billion — and the list goes on.


If you want to look at what Victorian workers deserve, they deserve a government that cares about them. They deserve a government that will seek to look after them. They need a government that is there for them. That is what we are here for. This government cares about Victorian workers, not about unions and not about union mates. We will be here standing up for families. We will be here standing up for Victorians. We will be here standing up every single day for Victorian workers.

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