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senate vote 2019-11-26#5

Edited by mackay staff

on 2020-05-29 11:15:11


  • Business Rearrangement
  • Business - Rearrangement - Let a motion happen


  • <p class="speaker">Mathias Cormann</p>
  • <p>I seek leave to move a motion to provide for the consideration of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019.</p>
  • <p>Leave not granted.</p>
  • The majority voted in favour of a [motion]( to suspend the usual procedural rules - known as [standing orders]( - which means the requested motion could be moved.
  • ### Motion text
  • > *That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent [Senator Cormann]( moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely, a motion to provide that a motion relating to the consideration of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019 may be moved immediately and determined without amendment or debate.*
  • <p>Pursuant to contingent notice standing in my name, I move:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Cormann moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely, a motion to provide that a motion relating to the consideration of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019 may be moved immediately and determined without amendment or debate.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Penny Wong</p>
  • <p>In relation to the suspension of standing orders that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has moved, let's be clear what we are voting on right now. The government is moving this motion so that it can ram through its extreme anti-worker legislation. That's what's happening. This bill, the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019, doesn't apply to business, it doesn't apply to the banks, it doesn't apply to Angus Taylor and it doesn't apply to Senator Cash; it only applies to working people and their representatives. It is an all-out assault on workers' ability to organise, run their own union and determine who leads them. It is an attack on nurses, midwives, teachers, police officers and their representatives.</p>
  • <p>This bill is called the 'ensuring integrity bill', but do you know what it is? It is just like Work Choices. I was here for the Work Choices legislation, and you lot haven't changed since then! You couldn't care less about integrity. You want to hide information from the people of Australia. You're a government that is loose with the truth&#8212;and I tell you what: oh boy, are you a government that doesn't like scrutiny!</p>
  • <p>We've seen Angus Taylor, who has blocked FOI access to 200 documents and refused to answer questions. If you were serious about integrity, we might have some legislation for a national integrity commission. But no. We've got a motion on this bill.</p>
  • <p>What about the banking royal commission? Last year big banks made billions of dollars from ordinary Australians by routinely breaching the law, but you're not here today to crack down on lawlessness in the banks. You're not here to implement the recommendations of the royal commission. In fact, after 299 days you've implemented six out of 76 recommendations of the royal commission you were dragged kicking and screaming to support. In fact, this government, which talks about integrity, is trying to ram through antiworker legislation in a week when it was revealed that Westpac breached Australian money-laundering laws 23 million times and failed to act on customers using its services to purchase child exploitation materials. But is this your priority? No. You know what the Prime Minister says? He says that lawlessness&#8212;23 million breaches of the law and abetting child abusers&#8212;is a matter for the board. But you want to use this chamber and the parliament of Australia to expedite a bill that could deregister unions representing midwives, flight attendants and firefighters for three paperwork breaches.</p>
  • <p>You lot haven't changed since we debated Work Choices in here. It's the same antiworker ideology and the same attack on working conditions. This was confirmed today when Senator Payne refused to rule out a watering-down of unfair dismissal laws and of the better off overall test. That really should demonstrate to everybody what this bill, which is being rammed through as a consequence of this motion, is all about. It is all about trying to take out the union movement so you can go after working people and their conditions, and out of the mouth of the Prime Minister and Minister Payne we heard that today.</p>
  • <p>Let's not forget that this government is trying to ram through antiworker legislation in a week when it was revealed that one in five workers in the construction, healthcare, retail, accommodation and food services industries has been a victim of wage theft. But are you going to do something about that and about the $1.35 billion in workers' wages underpaid each year? No, you want to attack the organisations that help people get this money back. They're your priority. It says everything about this government and the Liberal Party that the passage of this antiworker bill is your No. 1 priority. This is a government with no plans and no principles. The only thing they are united on, the only thing they are capable of, is a relentless political attack on working people and their representatives, and this has been the way this coalition and the Liberal Party have operated for decades. It is the same ideology and the same agenda as Work Choices.</p>
  • <p>The motion and this bill are about whether you think that there should be one standard for workers and their representatives and another standard for everyone else. This government does not care about integrity. This government does not care about lawlessness, and it does not care about workers. We will be opposing this motion and the bill. <i>(Time expired)</i></p>
  • <p class="speaker">Marise Payne</p>
  • <p>It's clear to those here that on the other side they absolutely know they can't defend the indefensible. This is sensible, balanced legislation, so what they're trying to do is to silence debate in this chamber while they tell&#8212;and Senator Wong did it again&#8212;egregious untruths about the content of this legislation. This motion that Senator Cormann has moved is about time. It is about hours for debate, as I understand it. But those opposite don't even want to have the debate, because they want to protect their protectors. That's quite clear. They know and we know that the existing laws are inadequate and have led to a widespread culture of misconduct in registered organisations, and it's about registered organisations&#8212;not that you would have known that from Senator Wong's speech.</p>
  • <p>The changes that we are looking at around disqualification, deregistration and amalgamations&#8212;the issues that Senator Wong has raised&#8212;are changes which are needed now. It's because there's a pattern of behaviour that leads those opposite to protect the people that send them here. That is absolutely transparent from what Senator Wong had to say here today. We know that, of all the examples that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate put forward, none proves their case, because they know they can't, as I said, defend the indefensible.</p>
  • <p>Do you know, Mr President, that, since this bill has been before the Senate, seven officers of one union in Australia&#8212;one union&#8212;have been penalised by the courts for more than 30 contraventions of the law? But those opposite are not even prepared to have a discussion about it. They're not even prepared to have the debate in this chamber because this is only about them protecting, as I said, their protectors.</p>
  • <p>The breaches that Senator Farrell refers to will be dealt with by AUSTRAC in the courts. What are you afraid of, Senator Farrell? They will be dealt with by AUSTRAC in the courts. They will be dealt with by the changes we have brought in in relation to banking in this country since the royal commission&#8212;the changes we have made which ensure that that type of behaviour is addressed. But you won't even allow a debate here today about this practice.</p>
  • <p>We have seen that those opposite are afraid of integrity. That's what they're afraid of. So a bill that ensures integrity in registered organisations is not something they are even prepared to contemplate. And that's why we should be bringing it forward&#8212;to have this discussion. It is about ensuring that registered organisations behave in an appropriate way and that their misconduct can be addressed, because their members deserve that. But there is no interest on the other side in ensuring that members are properly looked after by registered organisations&#8212;absolutely no interest whatsoever. There is a 'no problem here' approach from those opposite, 'nothing to see here'. Well, the record shows differently. We have seen it through the trade union royal commission and we have seen it with behaviour in this chamber, and those opposite would prefer to do absolutely nothing. Well, this government won't do nothing. The government recognise that registered organisations have a responsibility to their members, a responsibility to those they represent, and we have a responsibility to ensure that the legislative construct around that protects the organisations and their workers.</p>
  • <p>The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill has been called extreme legislation, but it is not extreme legislation, because these are very important organisations; members place a great deal of trust in them, and members should be protected adequately. There is no place in the system for those who breach the trust of their members. There is no place in the system for those who act in their own interests, at the expense of members, or those who show nothing but contempt for the laws that apply equally to all Australians.</p>
  • <p>So we seek to have a debate on this legislation today. This debate is about hours, not about the bill itself, although Senator Wong did not appear to turn herself to that matter. We seek to have that debate, but those opposite are trying to avoid it because they know they can't defend the indefensible. They know. They want to try and silence debate in this chamber, while they tell terrible mistruths about this legislation inside the chamber and outside the chamber, because, frankly, the debate will only expose them.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Don Farrell</p>
  • <p>If the government were really serious about integrity, why are they running a protection racket for one of their own ministers, Angus Taylor? Under investigation from&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Hon. Senators</p>
  • <p>Honourable senators interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Don Farrell</p>
  • <p>I know what I've read in the newspapers.</p>
  • <p>Honourable senators interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Scott Ryan</p>
  • <p>Order! Interjections across the table are disorderly. I remind people of the motion we're discussing. Senator Farrell, please continue.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Don Farrell</p>
  • <p>Thank you for that protection, Mr President. If this government were serious about integrity, then you'd be doing something about the integrity of one of your own ministers, but instead you're picking on workers and their organisations.</p>
  • <p>When John Howard lost the 2007 election, Tony Abbott said that Work Choices was 'dead, buried and cremated'. But it's not. It's not. It has roared back into this parliament, and it has roared back in the form of this misnamed integrity bill. It has come back in two parts. Part No. 1, Senator Payne, is this bill we're going to be debating this afternoon. What does that bill do? It ties unions up in knots filling out paperwork, not letting them do the work that they need to do in this country, which is to boost wages and conditions. That's step No. 1, part No. 1, of this legislation: to tie them up. Then there's part No. 2. Part No. 2 is coming. Part No. 2 is on its way. Having weakened the unions by passing this legislation, what do they do next? Well, they come after the workers; they come after their entitlements. I have to say that Prime Minister Morrison has in fact been smarter than Prime Minister Howard. I've got to admit that. He's far more cunning. Rather than going after the workers directly, he's going after the unions first&#8212;and then he'll go after the workers.</p>
  • <p>What are the problems that we've got in this country at the moment? Ensuring integrity? No. What's happening in this country at the moment? We've got a series of serious economic problems. Wages have stagnated in this country, and they continue to stagnate. Unemployment is rising, particularly in my own state. Retail sales are either flatlining or falling. These are serious problems that ordinary Australians are facing. What is this government doing about them? Well, it is attacking the one set of organisations that might be able to turn this situation around. It's attacking the unions, and limiting their ability to do the job that they need to be doing, which is to raise wages and conditions. This government should be supporting unions to do the job that they need to do, to get real wage rises going in this country and to kickstart the economy. Instead, we've got Work Choices mark II: tying up unions in unbelievable amounts of paperwork, stopping their vital work in lifting wages.</p>
  • <p>What about the comparison? This is supposed to be the same set of laws applying to unions as to companies. Senator Payne referred to a particular union that had seven offences against it. What did we see this week? Bank officials having broken the law 23 million times.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Sue Lines</p>
  • <p>What a disgrace!</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Don Farrell</p>
  • <p>I agree with you, Senator Lines&#8212;that is a disgrace. But what did the person who oversaw those crimes get? Well, today they got $2.69 million, on the way out! Was that person banned from activities in banking? Was the organisation that he represented deregistered and stopped from running their business? How on earth is there any comparison between what this legislation seeks to do to unions and the way this government treats big business, their mates?</p>
  • <p>Honourable senators interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Scott Ryan</p>
  • <p>Order! Senator Wong, Senator Rennick, Senator McKim, I'll come to you next. There's only been one government speaker so far, so I'll go to Senator Birmingham, then I will come to you next. Senator Birmingham.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>The first thing the chamber needs to bear in mind is: what's the question before the chair at present? The question before the chair is to provide more time, more hours, to have a debate. And what are the Labor Party doing at present? They're opposing even having the time to have the debate! That's all we've got from this opposition. They're actually opposing sitting back later tonight and sitting back later tomorrow night, so that we can have the debate, so that we can give them additional hours, should they wish, to actually debate the issues in this legislation. And why are they so damned opposed to having this debate? Why are they so hysterical about this argument? Why are they fighting tooth and nail, every step of the way, on this issue? Well of course, because it's all about the people who put them here&#8212;that's the case when it comes to those opposite.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Dean Smith</p>
  • <p>Not the Australian voters.</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>