To commence my contribution in this debate, I want to make an observation. It is what Labor contributions seem to be underpinned by: misrepresenting answers given by ministers, misconstruing things and selective quoting—which I have seen a lot of today. It started with Senator Urquhart’s question where she selectively quoted from Senator Brandis’s answer from yesterday in trying to make a case, which she was not able to in the end. Senator Brandis, in his answer, was able to demolish the point that she was trying to make. It was also very revealing to hear today that the Labor Party intend to vote against the legislation to prevent corrupting benefits. I thought that was a very, very revealing answer. To hear that the people who are coming in here railing against these cuts to penalty rates, as they have characterised them, are then going to try and push back on this proposal from the government to protect workers and ensure their rights are protected when it comes to these big business and big union deals. There was a lot of noise from the opposition when that point was made, but I have not yet heard anyone deny that that is what Labor are going to do to protect workers’ rights instead of the rights of big unions. It is just astounding that they try to come in here and claim the moral high ground when they have no capacity to do so.
In other areas of this debate, opposition members have pointed to us speaking about the independence of the Fair Work Commission and the way it reaches its decisions and tried to contrast that with our decision to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which is a ridiculous link to draw.
Senator Bilyk: Why?
Senator DUNIAM: I will take that interjection, Senator Bilyk. I wonder whether Labor are trying to call for the government to abolish the Fair Work Commission. Is that what you are trying to do? It is ridiculous to link the decision that has been reached by an independent body, based on thousands of submissions from all sorts of entities and individuals, and say we should not—
Senator Bushby interjecting—
Senator DUNIAM: Exactly right! I just wonder whether that is what those opposite are trying to do. Are they trying to call for the abolition of the Fair Work Commission, the body that they established, to which they appointed commissioners, and that they said they would respect—as per the contribution provided by Senator Reynolds. They want to pick and choose what decisions they support and will adhere to.
A point that was made to me earlier was: where were Labor when, in 2009, the predecessor entity to the Fair Work Commission decided to reduce penalty rates for workers? Where were they when the Australian Industrial Relations Commission made that decision? Were they quiet? Yes, they were. They did not stand up and campaign on that issue, saying that workers’ rights were being stripped. Now it is politically convenient for them to do that, and they are making all this noise.
I want to go to the impact on small business. We have talked a lot about small businesses, such as those in our community, Senator Bilyk, and how they make up the economies of our small regional communities. What does Labor say to those businesses that cannot open on a Sunday? What does Labor say to those people who do not have a job on a Sunday because businesses cannot open—people who have zero dollars in their bank account because businesses do not open and they do not get paid? Labor wants to vilify small-business operators. It wants to make small business operators out to be people who are just in it to make a buck, who push down and oppress employees. I am sick of that. These people are genuine, honest, hardworking people who want to contribute to their local economies. They respect their employees, because that is what makes a good small business. I call on Labor to stop vilifying small-business people and allow them to do what is right for the economies of their small communities. Help them to open on a Sunday. Help them to employ people who need these jobs in our small communities. Labor should get on board and stop playing politics.