Release type: Speech


Labour Day March - Brisbane


The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for the Arts

THE HON TONY BURKE MP, MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS, MINISTER FOR THE ARTS: Great to be here with you again and so proud to have been Welcomed to Country. Being Welcomed to Country is such a generous thing. And I'm pleased to be part of a Government and a movement that wants to return that other generous gesture, which is the Uluru Statement from The Heart. An incredibly generous invitation to Australia and to be part with you of Australians returning that generosity and saying yes, we will walk together later this year in a referendum vote. 

First of all, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for the way you organise on the ground. What we do in parliaments, whether it's the Queensland Parliament or the Australian Parliament, it only matters if it's actually being enforced. When you organise on the ground, you make every change that happens through those parliaments real for working people, and you should own that. A whole lot of the changes that we've made started with campaigns that the Queensland movement ran and then got through the Queensland Parliament here. 

Family and domestic violence leave, you have the best equal pay remuneration clause in the country and we've now applied that nationally. With family and domestic violence leave, you got the first principle through of any state. We then took that and said, let's also apply it to every worker in Australia, including casuals, so that regardless of what your work status is, family and domestic violence doesn't choose based on what your work classification is. No one, absolutely no one, should ever have to choose between her safety and her pay. And that's now law. 

Zombie agreements, some made before Workchoices are still around. Every one of those agreements is now being sunsetted. Every last one of them. It used to be legal to advertise a job for less than the legal rate of pay. That is now unlawful throughout the country. Multi-employer bargaining, now law. And the previous mob had set up institutions that were entirely guided to be politicised. Remember when the Registered Organisation Commission, when they were organising for raids and the media would turn up before the before the police did? Remember that? There's no longer a Registered Organisation's Commission.

Remember when there was a regulator, a so-called regulator, where the chief of it was found to be breaking the Fair Work Act? And that regulator was called the ABCC? There no longer is an ABCC. We've taken action, like we said we would, to get wages moving, to improve secure work, to close the gender pay gap. We're taking action now to make sure that we've got workplaces that are safe, and later this year we'll be taking action on silicosis with the states as well. 

Last year was about raising the bar and getting wages moving, raising the bar and getting agreements going. This year will be about closing the loopholes, and there's some rorts and some loopholes that we need to close. We need to end the exploitation of casuals, where an employer can just define anyone as a casual, no matter how they're rostered. We need same job, same pay. We need to make sure that in the gig economy, there are minimum standards, so that never again is there a government that says, “Oh, well, some people will just be paid less than the legal minimum”. We need minimum standards for that gig economy and we'll get them this year. 

This year, just like Queensland did some time ago, at a federal level, wage theft will be a crime. We'll do this because we're not just a party, we're not just a government. We're part of a movement. We're part of a movement where you are the eyes and ears in workplaces all throughout Queensland, where you organise and make sure that what happens in the Parliament makes a difference to working people's lives. Whereas a result of the work that we do together, the gender pay gap will be closing, job security will become real, wages will be moving, workplaces will be safer, and you will know you were part of that because you were part of the Queensland union movement.