Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Gillard wipes the floor with Bishop during Workplace Relations debate

The Monday 17 March 2008 Hansard record of Julia Gillard's response to Julie Bishop during the second reading of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward With Fairness) Bill 2008.
"I am advised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that she has nearly finished her remarks. If that is the case we will hear again from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and then do what the Australian people want us to do, which is to pass the bill which they voted for. In relation to the last representations and silly statements by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition—no doubt she will stand at the dispatch box and make another series of silly statements which I will leave unanswered—the Howard government never produced any economic modelling of Work Choices. I will not stand here as a member of the Rudd Labor government and be lectured by the current opposition on the question of the production of economic modelling. Indeed, her request for it is the height of hypocrisy. For the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to describe her proposal in her speech on the second reading as something that has been satisfied through the Senate inquiry process is a cover-up of the fact that she has clearly been rolled by her party room again. She tried to achieve yet another extension of Australian workplace agreements, because she believes in Work Choices—she believes in AWAs that can rip people off. She put that position to the party room, she got rolled and she clearly got rolled again on the amendment. I will give the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this: at least she knows what she believes in and she is prepared to stand up for it. I have to give the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that. I can understand her high state of anger with her colleagues whom she described in the media as having 'gone to water'. I can understand that. She at least knows what she believes in. She believes in Work Choices and she always will. But this government was elected to deliver something different. It is this bill. We are seeking passage of it through the House of Representatives today. We will receive the Senate inquiry report. We always supported there being a Senate inquiry with a proper time frame. We will consider what the Senate inquiry report says. But having had that consideration I can see no reason why this bill cannot pass the parliament this week so we can end forever the spectre that Australians walk into their workplaces to be confronted by an Australian workplace agreement that takes away an award condition from them without any, or any proper, compensation. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition can carry on about nominal expiry dates and time periods for agreements, but what she and the Liberal Party know is this: the only thing that ensured the end of Australian workplace agreements that can rip conditions away was the election of the Rudd Labor government. We would never have got to this point had the Howard government been re-elected. She will dismiss it—she will carry on about nominal expiry dates—but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition must concede that next week when this bill is proclaimed there will never again be an Australian worker who walks into their workplace fearful that that is the day when an Australian workplace agreement gets shoved into their hands that takes away an award condition for no proper compensation or perhaps no compensation at all. I think that is a truly historic step. The Rudd Labor government believes it to be a truly historic step. It is what the Australian people voted for when they repudiated Work Choices and the party of Work Choices—the Liberal Party."
It would have been interesting to read Ms. Gillard's response to what Malcolm Turnbull might have had to say during the second reading, but he appears to have been steadfastly silent during the debate. Did he even bother to turn up?

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