MPI – Unions
Mr PITT (Hinkler—Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister) (15:43): I always enjoy following the member for Wakefield. He is a passionate contributor, and he did get one thing right: this is about cash. We should talk about this mob over here, where they source their cash and what they do with it. Let’s be very, very frank, there is no-one on that side of the room anymore who actually represents the working people in the country. Working people get up every single day, put on their hard hats, put on their high-vis, put on their safety boots and go to work.
Mr Champion: What about me, mate? I worked for a living. I worked on a farm. I picked fruit.
Mr PITT: Okay, we have one, the member for Wakefield has put himself forward. We have one. It’s a great contribution. Those workers are out there every single day, doing the 20-on, eight-off shift and doing the 14-day swing shift. They are the ones who are working in the resources industry and working in power generation. They are working hard in very difficult conditions. And what happens every single fortnight? They get their payslip, and at the bottom of that is a contribution to the union for their membership.
Mr Champion: They have to join the union for that contribution to come out!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield is warned!
Mr PITT: I acknowledge the work of the unions over many, many years. They have done things that are valuable. They are, in fact, a necessarily evil.
But let’s look at where that money goes, because it goes into the union and we know that it now goes from the AWU to GetUp!—$100,000. And what does GetUp! do with that money? What do they do with it? They go out and run an anti-coal campaign. They go and run a campaign against the resources industry, to take the jobs away from the people making the contribution to the AWU, to the CFMEU, to what was the ETU, to Labor and to GetUp! to get rid of their jobs! What sort of circle is that? To make these contributions all the way round the circle, from hardworking people to unions, to Labor, to GetUp! to get rid of their industry? I mean, that is just outrageous!
How can they sit over there and say that they represent working people but want to close their industry? The resources industry is incredibly important to Australia: it is a very strong contributor to our GDP, it provides tens of thousands of jobs and we know that there are lobby groups out there like GetUp! that want them to be gone.
This $100,000, what was it? Was it Christmas? Was it Santa Claus? Did Santa decide that he should push $100,000 from the AWU across to GetUp!—really? Was it their birthday? Well, no, someone made a decision. And that decision was made by the Leader of the Opposition, the former head of the AWU, one Bill Shorten. Now, he should be accountable for those decisions, because that money is trying to get to rid of the jobs of the people who are making the contribution.
What do you say to the comrades? Well, comrades, we really want you to continue to contribute. We want you to continue to give us money so we can fight our good fight. But we also want you to be out of a job. We want your industry to be closed down. We do not want you to have a job at all. So we’ll continue to go to GetUp! and continue to let them campaign. We’ll let them campaign to shut your industry so that you no longer have a position and you can’t pay your union fees and dues. I’m not sure what you think happens next, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I would imagine there’d be no more contributions. I would imagine that there would be no more money to be paid.
But this debate is also about trust. Who do we trust? Do we trust the Leader of the Opposition? This is a man who goes to Melbourne and tells the people of Melbourne that he doesn’t support the resources industry. In fact, he doesn’t want to see the Galilee Basin opened. He thinks that’s terrible because he’s trying to win the Batman by-election. But when he goes to Biloela or Moranbah he has a completely different perception, and that is that he supports resources. So we can’t trust the Leader of the Opposition on resources; we simply cannot.
Or what about energy? The contribution from the Labor Party is that they want a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target. This will drive up prices, there is no doubt about that at all. In fact, as an electrical engineer, I struggle to understand the concept where you would make your generation system—half of your capacity—a variable supply, one which doesn’t work in the dark and won’t work if it’s calm. What do we do? Do we turn off half the nation when it doesn’t operate?
These are the challenges that we need to look at. You cannot trust the Leader of the Opposition—you cannot trust him when it comes to resources, you cannot trust him when it comes to energy and you can’t trust him on borders. We’ve heard this debate and we saw the contribution from Mr Dutton, the shareholding minister. What happens when there’s a debate on? Well, they shut it down. We’ve certainly heard from Mr Dutton how that happens. You get your mates from the CFMEU to come down. And where do they get their funding from? From those poor, hardworking people who are out there doing their gig and looking for support from their unions and organisers, who take that money and want to get rid of their jobs. They want them gone. They want to open borders and they want to increase the cost of electricity. This is just an absolutely outrageous list of things that the Leader of the Opposition wants to do, and he cannot be trusted.
The last word should go to Mr Setka. Mr Setka was very, very clear in his quote when he was asked, ‘Do you trust Bill Shorten?’ Well, the short answer, in one second, was, ‘No, I do not.’