May 2013


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Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (14:38): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Is the minister aware that the greatest jobs growth in Australian history was in WA and Queensland in the Charles Court and Bjelke-Petersen years? In both states all fly-ins, even intrastate, were banned. Does this not make an absolute mockery of the Liberals' claim that 457 visas are necessary? In light of the government body Australia Post employing hundreds of 457s for postal delivery, could he assure the House that these 457s will be terminated and Australians employed? In light of nearly 300,000 people registered for full-time employment in WA and Queensland, would he not condemn the Liberals for bringing in each year— (Time expired)

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member's time expired several minutes ago.

Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:39): I thank the member for Kennedy—

Mr Pyne: I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker, concerning a question to you on a point of clarification about the time limits. Clearly, there are time limits. The member for Kennedy ran out of time and then went on for at least the same amount of time. But how can the minister answer the question when he did not actually hear the question, but he seems to have a fully written answer?

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. This is not a point of order; it is debate. If he had such an issue, he could raise it with me after question time. The member for Kennedy will resume his seat. The minister has the call.

Mr Katter: Madam Speaker, on the point of order—

The SPEAKER: The member for Kennedy will resume his seat. When I indicated that the member's time had expired, I hope you all noticed that his microphone was turned off. The minister has the call. If the member for Kennedy wishes to stay and hear an answer, he had better observe the standing orders.

Mr SHORTEN: I thank the member for Kennedy for his question. I have a sense of what he was asking because he is interested in what happens to Australian workers. That makes him pretty lonely on that side of the House. I know that he makes the opposition uncomfortable, but he does at least—

Mr Katter interjecting—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Kennedy is now skating on thin ice! The member for Kennedy is seeking a point of order, and it had better be a point of order or he will not get to hear his answer!

Mr Katter: Madam Speaker, I am seeking a point of order because the Liberal leader accused me of having provided them with a question beforehand.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Kennedy will resume his seat. I am not in the mood to ask the Serjeant to escort you, but I am getting there. And he might have some friends joining him on the way, Member for Paterson. I understand the member for Kennedy's concern about the interjection from the Manager of Opposition Business. I take it seriously, but the standing orders require the minister to be heard in silence. The minister has the call.

Mr SHORTEN: The member for Kennedy has raised issues to do with workplace relations. That would make him the Lone Ranger on that side of the House when it comes to talking about the conditions of workers, so thank you. He was asking me about 457 visas, and there are three points I would like to make.

First of all, this government believes that where there are jobs in Australia that can be filled by Australians, we should do that. We also believe in providing the best training opportunities for Australians. That is why we have spent a record amount on training Australians to take advantage of the jobs in Australia. He specifically asked about Australia Post, and I can reassure any anxiety he may be feeling. I understand that in the mail delivery area of Australia Post there are no 457 visas. I understand that when it comes to administrative functions there is a total of three 457 visas. I understand that in their business called Star Trek—StarTrack—

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr SHORTEN: No, Star Trek is what you guys have for industrial relations!—Australia Post employs a total of one person on a 457 visa. So the answer to the member for Kennedy's question is: there are none in mail delivery and I understand there are three in administration and one in StarTrack.

What I can also tell him is that the Migration Council has said that seven per cent of 457 workers have reported that they are being ripped off compared to their Australian counterparts. This is a shonk and should be tackled, and we are tackling it. I can also conclude and tell the member for Kennedy who is expressing his views about the 457 visas that we are clear where we stand, just as we are in terms of workplace relations generally. What I can report to him, though, is what the Leader of the Opposition said on 27 April 2012 in a speech to the IPA—Alex Hawke's favourite book of reference—about 457s. He said that 'under a coalition government, 457s won't just be a component, they'll be the mainstay of our immigration policy'.

Mr Katter interjecting—

The SPEAKER: The member for Kennedy will leave the chamber under 94(a). The member for New England has been giving him bad ideas.

The member for Kennedy then left the chamber —

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