Second Reading Speech by Senator Andrew Bragg
Liberal Senator for New South Wales
Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019 Second Reading Speech
27 November 2019
Robert Menzies created the Liberal Party to stand for workers and to stand for the middle classes. Unlike the Labor Party, we are not run by vested interests. Every single day, we see the Labor Party run by the unions, whether it's on superannuation, whether it's on trade policy or whether it's on industrial relations. What a pathetic situation you find yourselves in!
We support workers. We're on the side of the workers. We are on the side of integrity. The problem we are trying to solve is lawlessness. The law is deficient. We have seen court fines of more than $16½ million issued to the CFMMEU. They have had no impact, because the union treats these fines like speeding tickets. We've seen the NUW spend $650,000 of members' money on tattoos, botox, cruises, divorce lawyers and weight-loss surgery—amazing.
Unions occupy a privileged position in this nation. They have a monopoly on representation of workers in different sectors. There is no equivalence to corporations in many respects. We want to make sure that all these mergers are always in the national interest. We've seen union officials like John Setka go onto the street and threaten to go and get government officials. We've seen them go into the footy club or the shopping centre and attack people. That is an amazing standard that you want to defend.
Of course, we've even seen Senators in this place, like Senator Patrick, come into this place and say that they've been threatened by these unions, which is outrageous behaviour that you seek to defend. The cost to the community is a 30 per cent higher cost on building and construction. Who pays for this? Mums, dads and workers. They pay for the additional costs of construction.
You want to talk about banks? That's great. We've done a royal commission and put in place a bank levy and the Banking Executive Accountability Regime. The penalties the banks will face will be higher than the penalties that are contained in this bill. Whether it's in relation to financial penalties or jail time, we are throwing the book at the banks.
We write our own policies. You have no idea how to even write a policy. You ask the industry super funds to write your policies on super. The unions write your policies on industrial relations and trade policy. At the last election, you had the industry super funds write your retiree tax policy for you. How did that go? Not too good. We don't outsource policymaking; we do it ourselves. We're always trying to root out vested interests, and that's what this bill does. It attacks vested interests and it shows that we're on the side of the workers and the middle classes, just as we have been for the whole 75 years of our party's existence.