On the Stump in the big House on the
Mr CLEARY (Wills) (7.18
p.m.)--On 31 March 1995 I wrote to the Minister for Industry, Science and
Technology (Senator Cook) concerning allegations in a report, `The hidden cost
of fashion', that the use of exploitative outwork was rife in the fashion
industry in Australia. The report, commissioned by the Department of Industrial
Relations, cited a figure of 300,000 outworkers and painted a picture of
Dickensian dimensions. Accordingly, I asked the minister to:
. . . investigate the level and
extent of sweated outwork, determine whether any government industries were
using outworkers--there were plenty of claims accordingly--
and reassess the effects of tariff
cuts on the TCF industry.
It came as no surprise when the
minister responded with claims that his data implied that there were around only
30,000 persons employed in outwork and that he did not consider that an
independent inquiry would help in dealing with what he described as a complex
Even Joan Kirner, despite
the fact that she was Premier at the time, had enough courage to
tell the Keating government that its tariff policies were opening
the way for an increase in TCF imports and a decline in employment
in that sector.........
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Mr CLEARY (Wills)--The member
for Dunkley (Mr Chynoweth) came up with a beauty with that `Jeffrey
"Glib" Kennett' line. I know we have a problem with Jeffrey Gibb
Kennett, or Jeffrey `Glib' Kennett. The member for Dunkley is right. We are
talking about privatisation and the sale of United Energy by the Kennett
government, but what about the Commonwealth Bank? Why can we not get that
legislation into this parliament?
I thought it was rather interesting
that the member for Lilley (Mr Swan) was up there this morning, crowing about
the banks putting the boots into ordinary people at the lower end of the income
scale. He is from the party that has deregulated the banking sector and told us
about the grand horizon that would emerge. And what do we see? The Treasurer (Mr
Willis) decides to sell the Commonwealth Bank, hops in a Commonwealth car, runs
around to the Commonwealth Bank and says, `Excuse me. Drop your charges.'
I will tell you what Ted Mack and I are going to do
when the legislation to sell off the Commonwealth Bank comes in, and we are
waiting to see that legislation: we will divide so all the people here can see
how treacherous the rump of the right wing Labor Party is these days..........
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Mr CLEARY (Wills)--It seems
that the hypocrisy of some politicians in Victoria knows no bounds. On the
weekend the ALP right wing machine was wheeled out into Brunswick to do a bit of
crowing about its opposition to tollways, in particular the Kennett government's
proposed toll on the Tullamarine freeway. The fact that the federal government
introduced a tax amendment bill into the parliament last year--or was it the
year before?--to enable the use of tax concessional infrastructure bonds for the
building of tollways did not get a run when these tired old faces went through
their Kennett ritual on the weekend.
The idea that Labor is, per se,
opposed to tollways is the biggest con job and the biggest joke going around at
the moment. If the federal government's tollway legislation is not enough, then
what about Premier Carr, who deliberately deceived the people of New South Wales
when he said that he would remove tolls on freeways? After what we have seen in
New South Wales only a dill would trust the Victorian state ALP to remove tolls
should it ever be elected again.
What the ALP, state and federal,
should be doing is declaring its commitment to public transport. For the people
of the north of Melbourne that means the upgrading of the Upfield railway line
and the provision of a rapid rail link to the Tullamarine airport. Regrettably,
the state ALP and those hypocrites who would have us believe that tolls are the
only issue are just as committed to freeways as that other mob down in Victoria.
Involvement of Churches in Politics
Mr CLEARY (Wills) (7.42
p.m.)--Recent statements by the Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, concerning
the involvement of the churches in the political life of Victoria deserve the
greatest condemnation. If members of the federal coalition sit back and give
their tacit support to these comments, they too deserve condemnation. To on the
one hand submerge yourself in the rhetoric of individualism, as members of the
coalition so often do in this House when they defend the individual against
international conventions and big government, yet on the other hand turn a blind
eye to Jeff Kennett's authoritarianism constitutes abject hypocrisy.
If Jeff Kennett were a fascist, a
bovver-boot boy like Benito Mussolini, for example, we could understand this
desire to bring the church to heel. But before he was elected Jeff Kennett did
not ever say he was opposed to elections, free speech, an independent judiciary
or the pluralism that characterises Western democracies. Sure, we knew he was a
right wing lover of the corporate sector, and we all suspected he would be into
cronyism, but most people did not think that he would start acting like a reborn
Mr CLEARY (Wills) (7.38
p.m.)--What a nice touch it was to see the member for Kooyong (Mr Georgiou)--the
electoral home of Jeff Kennett's egalitarian corporate mates--leading the
coalition's outpouring of concern for ordinary workers. Of course, north of the
Yarra we really appreciate those Toorak socialites and charity queens who so
graciously convene fundraising nights for the poor. But, as the tax experts in
this House know, a charity night is much easier on the pocket than a progressive
Regrettably, one cannot help but
think there is a touch of hypocrisy about this alleged concern for ordinary
battlers. On 6 December 1994, during a debate on a matter of public importance,
the member for Higgins (Mr Costello) was howling like a dog at a bone about the
power of the unions in telling us that Bill Kelty controlled the government and
that trade unionists merely organised a wages claim when they wanted to improve
their financial position.
I would have thought that if the
member for Higgins truly believed that battlers were doing it hard he would be
supporting their wage claims rather than deriding them or their union. Just to
complicate things, members of the coalition are now arguing that under Bill
Kelty and Martin Ferguson the wages of trade unionists have declined. So what is
the real story? Are trade unionists running the country and dishing out huge
wage increases to battlers or are battlers--as I thought the member for
Bennelong (Mr Howard) was claiming--suffering under a Labor government? The
answer is pretty simple, and no amount of rubbery statistics from the government
frontbench can camouflage the reality.
Only this month the Minister for
Employment, Education and Training (Mr Crean) announced a $2 million
program for youth unemployment. Apart from the fact that the press
release announcing the $2 million expenditure is full of meaningless
marketing cliches such as `the program is about informing people
and developing effective local strategies for responding to young
people's ideas', which means absolutely nothing and says nothing
about real jobs, it pales into insignificance in the context of
the government's decision in the 1995 budget to cut $1.2 billion
from labour market programs. So much for labour market programs.
..... On 31 August 1995,
the Minister for Employment, Education and Training accused the
coalition of advocating work for the dole, yet conveniently ignored
the fact that two years earlier the member for Lilley (Mr Swan)
in this House said: Organisations
such as meals-on-wheels would be one pathway back into employment
particularly for the long-term unemployed . . . Meals-on-wheels
would allow the unemployed to participate and give something back
to the community in which they live.....
The reason work for
the dole is proposed in one fashion or another by members of both
sides of the House is that free market policies are not working.
And, as professor Bob Gregory has pointed out ad nauseam, the loss
of employment in low income neighbourhoods is the major reason for
the growing discrepancy between low and top income earners.
Flowers and tears at a women's
conference in Beijing are cold comfort for the unemployed women of Coburg and
Brunswick who once worked in the textile industry and are now victims of these
free market policies........
CUSTOMS (PROHIBITED IMPORTS)
REGULATIONS (PREVENTION OF CHILD LABOUR) BILL 1995 Second Reading
Consideration resumed from 26 June.
Mr CLEARY (Wills) (2.10 p.m.)--I move:
That the bill be now read a second time.
..., the Customs (Prohibited Imports)
Regulations (Prevention of Child Labour) Bill is an attempt through
the prohibition of goods made under such conditions to outlaw the
practice of child labour which we now know is endemic in various
parts of the world.
...not a surreptitious
piece of old style protectionism; nor is it, as some apologists
would claim, an act of cultural imperialism. It is an affirmation
of the rights of workers...give expression to the labour tenet of
international worker solidarity as expressed by the Australian trade
union movement when it gave its moral and financial support to the
London dockworkers in their strike in 1889.
....as the member for
Throsby (Mr Hollis) acknowledged in his speech on the first reading
of the bill, that trade unionists in countries such as Bangladesh
and India... are totally opposed to the use of child labour. Suggestions
by the Minister for Trade (Senator McMullan) and the member for
Adelaide (Ms Worth) that child labour is a product of poverty are
repudiated by trade unionists who represent workers in these countries.............
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS -
Date: 14 November 1994
Mr CLEARY (Wills)--The latest
act of wanton disregard for people's rights by that frustrated,
Scotch College cadet, otherwise known as the Premier of Victoria,
just about confirms that the bloke is a savage.
Without batting an eyelid,
he tells us that the proposed widening of the Tullamarine freeway
will eliminate gridlock. He and his urban vandal mate, the Victorian
Minister for Roads, do not utter one word about the detrimental
effect that this widening will have on the people of Brunswick,
Coburg, Moonee Ponds and Pascoe Vale.
I wonder whether the honourable
member for Moore (Mr Filing), the great defender of the unborn,
will have the courage to defend those children who will suffer as
a result of Premier Kennett's obsessive commitment to pumping more
lead into the atmosphere. The truth is that he cares nought about
the children of Moonee Ponds Central, Pascoe Vale South Primary,
Our Lady's, Strathmore High, Strathmore Primary, Essendon North
Primary, Brunswick North West Primary and Brunswick South West Primary.
You can bet that he would not show the same contempt for the children
of his classmates.
Mr Tuckey interjecting-- Mr
SPEAKER--The honourable member for O'Connor! It is not Western Australia.
Mr CLEARY--However, we
must not forget that this freeway widening could well be built with
infrastructure bonds receiving favourable tax treatment as part
of this government's regional economic development program. So much
for the ALP's commitment to the market and reduced government outlays.
So much for the ALP's commitment to the private sector.
I call on the federal government
to protect those people who stand to be disadvantaged by this proposed
freeway widening. Most of them traditionally voted Labor, except
in Wills. To do nothing is to be as culpable as the bully boy and
his corporate mates who unfortunately are presently running the
state of Victoria. (Time expired)