Mr HAYES (Fowler—Chief Opposition Whip) (15:47): It's got to be said that this government shows, time and time again, its genuine lack of respect for Australian workers. Coming to the table and talking about the jobs of aged-care workers shows that this government recognises a person's worth in this community by the size of their pay packet, not the value of the work they do within a community. But we should not be all that surprised. After all, this is the party of WorkChoices. This is the party that made it legal, for the first time in Australian history, to pay people below an award rate of pay. This is the party that went out of its way to show its disdain for Australian workers.
Only today, those opposite brought a superannuation bill before the House to give a 25-year amnesty to dodgy employers that have done the wrong thing by their workers by underpaying superannuation. Not only do they want to give them an amnesty so they can voluntarily come forward; they want to allow that to be a tax deduction—not a penalty but a tax deduction! That shows where they see worth in the community. And yesterday the Prime Minister showed his true colours. When asked about the difference in taxation benefits for a millionaire and an aged-care worker, his response was: 'They can be aspirational. They can get a better job.'
I don't know about you, but those of us who believe in community see day in, day out—and I imagine many on the other side would too—the value of workers in the aged community. They do an incredible job. We aspire to have our parents taken care of as they age and be treated kindly and with respect. We make a lot of demands on these aged-care workers, no question about it. Yet aged-care workers are very, very low-paid workers. My little brother is the secretary of the HSU, and I know aged care is a very big issue for them. I know that the cuts that this government has placed upon the aged-care sector are why wages are terribly restrained in that area. They get what this Prime Minister did yesterday—they made a statement about it, actually. They talked about how this Prime Minister has demeaned the work of aged-care workers—people who, as I've said, go out on our behalf looking after our friends and relatives, making sure they're treated with respect in their elder years and doing the things that most people probably wouldn't like to do. That's the way they treat the people who look after the aged and infirm in our community.
Talking about people who actually represent workers—Deputy Speaker Hogan, you will know from your time in this parliament how many times those opposite have given praise to worker representatives. Yes, trade union officials. Every day you will hear an attack being made on trade union officials and many of us on this side being linked to the trade union movement. I'm proud to say that I did grow up in the trade union movement. Hopefully in my time there I made a contribution towards looking after workers, their welfare and their families; I hope that I was able to achieve that. I think that's the aspiration of all people working in the trade union movement. Sorry, they actually have praised a trade union.
Mr Brian Mitchell: Have they?
Mr HAYES: They have: Kathy Jackson, the then National Secretary of the HSU. As a matter of fact, the Leader of the House and the then Prime Minister made it very clear that she was a hero of the working class; the person that other union leaders should aspire to be like. I'm not quite sure where she is at the moment, but probably still defending the criminal litigation that's been taken in terms of funds being taken from that organisation, the fact that member's didn't get the benefits that they were promised—a whole host of things. That's the hero they want to hold up and say, 'This is what the trade union movement should be about.' No wonder they bring legislation to support dodgy employers today. (Time expired)