Speeches Chris has made in the Australian Federal Parliament.


December 07, 2006

Mr HAYES (Werriwa) (9.47 a.m.)—Yesterday we heard the Minister for the Environment
and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, give voice to something that I think everyone in this
place knows—that this government’s industrial relations laws, Work Choices, are politically
unpopular. Labor members certainly know that. I, along with other members of Labor’s
Industrial Relations Taskforce, chaired by my colleague the member for Gorton, have heard
from people in more than 20 electorates, in every state and territory. In my own electorate I
have heard of many cases, such as that of Reinaldo Martinez, Errol Ogle, Reynaldo Cortez, the
employees of Esselte and, more recently, the employees of Lipa Pharmaceuticals. They have
all visited my office to complain about this government’s harsh industrial relations laws, what
they have done to them and, moreover, what they have done to their families. Members of the
government, if they are halfway honest, would have to admit that they have heard the same
things in their own electorates.
Mr Keenan—No, that’s not true.
Mr HAYES—The member for Stirling probably does not listen to people in his electorate;
that is all. A number of government members are quite anxious every time the Industrial
Relations Taskforce visits their electorates, and they are anxious for a very good reason. Not
only do they get to hear the dulcet tones of the member for Gorton on the airwaves after we
visit, but they also actually get to hear from people who come out of the woodwork from all
over the place and who have been impacted by Work Choices. They hear from the clergy, they
hear from pensioner groups, they hear from people worried about child care, they hear from
mums and dads. They hear from real people. That is the experience we have had time and
time again in every electorate that we have visited. And there is no point saying that it does
not happen, because we have visited just about every one of those electorates and we know
the stories that are out there, we know the frustrations people have and, quite frankly, we
know that they are not getting much attention from this government.
The Minister for Human Services, in the MPI discussion last Tuesday, made some very
interesting points. He said fairness starts with the opportunity for an individual to get a job. I
do not disagree with that. But I do remind people, and the minister in particular, that fairness
stops when individuals are forced to take a job at any price on any account. That is the
difference. That is where we draw the line in the sand. There has to be fairness in the way
people regulate their working lives. There has to be fairness in how they can accommodate
family life. What Work Choices has done has made the decision making all one way. There is
no choice; everyone knows that. This is all about the opportunity of an employer to be able to
dictate terms and conditions and say, ‘Do you want the job? If you do, sign the contract.’ That
is what people have been invited to do and that is why these extreme industrial relations laws
will continue to be completely unpopular for this government. (Time expired)