Address - paid domestic violence leave
The Hon Tony Burke MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations: Thanks so much, Michelle, and we acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that we're on and their elders past and present and proud to be here as part of a Government that's committed to delivering the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.
I want to acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues who are here; Katy Gallagher, Amanda Rishworth. I'm not sure if we've got anyone else at the moment, but I know others will come. Michelle, your role, both for your own passion on this, but also your role in leading the Australian trade union movement, the state and national leaders who are here from the ACTU, the different state and territory union organisations and various branches of unions. But most importantly, the delegates, the frontline workers. For people who are often in what can feel like the most lonely decision they will make in their lives. You've been there for them, you've been there for them, you've organised for them, you've changed workplace rules for them, and now you’ve changed the law of Australia for them.
This campaign, this cause -- what starts for people's lives tomorrow, did not start in this Parliament. Right back in 2009, there were a group of academics, experts from the Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse at University of New South Wales, who approached the trade union movement in New South Wales about the possibility of this idea. Then the following year, Surf Coast Shire Council, first place in the world to establish this. It meant so much when the bill was going through the House of Representatives to know that now in the House of Representatives, Libby Coker, the member for Corangamite, here seeing the law through the parliament, who in 2010 had been the mayor of Surf Coast Shire Council. You organised and then it came to us to work through "Okay, how do we draft this?", and in conversations with many people, I don't want to single out many people, but I think I should single out Nat Lang.
Everything came back to one principle. You shouldn't have to choose between your safety and your pay. Now, that started with, okay, what would ten days paid leave mean? But then you had to say, "Well, often normally we don't give leave entitlements to casuals," but if you don't on this, then a whole portion of the workforce is going to have to choose between their safety and their pay. So we had to include casuals.
Then normally you don't include various loadings on a leave entitlement, but if you didn't include the loadings, people would be choosing between their safety and their pay. We know that while it sounds simple to say choosing for your safety, but for everything else that can be going on at these moments in someone's life, just choosing your safety can be a really hard decision itself. You shouldn't, on top of that, be putting your pay at risk, be putting your job at risk, and as of tomorrow, they won't.
So for 11 million Australian employees, the law has been changed and you should not simply own this as voters, which you own all decisions in the Parliament as voters. But you organised, you listened, and a whole lot of you, as well, have spent your days on the front line helping people in this situation in so many ways.
There'll now be people, who no one in this room will ever meet, who just had the biggest crisis of their life. It's that little bit easier because of what you've done.
This will change people's lives, it will give people safety. I see the signs around, we won't wait, you're right. We won't wait, it starts tomorrow.