Bill's Transcripts

ABC Newsradio - Breakfast

ABC Newsradio - Breakfast
14 May 2013



MARIUS BENSON: Bill Shorten, you're warning again that the latest moves by retailers the words from retailers should send a shiver down the spine of Australian workers. But Tony Abbott has said Fair Work Australia, the Act is going to stay virtually unchanged, even if there's a change of Government.

BILL SHORTEN:    Everybody knows right in their heart of hearts that when a Coalition comes to power, workers' rights are number one on the hit parade to take away. And the Liberal Party - everyone also knows they're being a small target. They are rolling themselves up into a ball, a policy ball smaller than a golf ball, to make sure that no-one actually analyses their policies. Well, the Australian Retailers Association - I mean they're not a trade union, they're not a back-bencher in the Gillard Labor Government - the Australian Retailers Association is popping Champagne corks because they can now, through the back door of the Liberal policy, wipe out penalty rates.

The Australian Retailers Association are confirming exactly what I'm saying, that is the Liberal Party intend to create a sort of Wild West of industrial relations conditions, they can't be trusted and this is just proof of their - of how excited some people are about taking away workers' conditions.

MARIUS BENSON:             But the Australian Retailers Association is saying that if there are any changes, it will only be done with the consent of workers and will only be done if the workers end up better off.

BILL SHORTEN:    Marius, you and I know that when you're a young person going for your first job and someone puts a contract in front of you, you know, it takes a special kind of individual to say no, no let me go to the Fair Work Act, this is not right, this is not what Tony Abbott said at the election and, you know, the truth of the matter is something quite different. What happens is we are heading down the slippery slope to take-it-or-leave-it contracts, where if you want the job, you have to take whatever conditions you get offered.

MARIUS BENSON:             But under a Labor Government, the Fair Work Act is the protection for workers and under an Abbott Government, it will be virtually unchanged.

BILL SHORTEN:    No, there's one difference in those two sentences. You said under a Labor Government, the Fair Work Act is protection and then you say under an Abbott Government, it'll be virtually no changes. The difference is Labor and Liberal. Under a Labor government, we will keep the Fair Work Act and let's call it as it is. I think Australians are over the spin and the nonsense and the words. The Liberals have said that if they get in, that they are going to make it easier to offer individual arrangements and the Retailers Association is saying thank you, Hallelujah, this is what we want to de-regulate the system. And even if you don't accept what the retailers have said, even if you don't accept what informed experts are saying, then what the Liberals are also saying is by the way our industrial relations policy could be written on the back of an envelope, but in the envelope there's a blank cheque and the blank cheque says that we're going to give it over to the Productivity Commission to decide what to do.

The Productivity Commission has already released a report, barely two-and-half years ago saying let's get penalty rates, the hit list is on and penalty rates in retail are one of the issues. So, either way you cut it, the Liberal Party are going to de-regulate the labour market and they can't wait.

MARIUS BENSON:             Bill Shorten, thanks very much.

BILL SHORTEN:    Thank you.