Opposition leader in Gladstone to spruik 'fair go' for wages
GIVING Australian workers a "fair go" was top of the agenda for Labor leader Bill Shorten's pit stop in the Port City today, his second visit to Gladstone this month.
He reiterated Labor's promise to increase the minimum wage and discussed plans to replace the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility with their own Northern Australia Development Fund.
However he didn't promise to rule out reviewing the recent federal approvals for Adani's Carmichael mine or sign the CFMEU pledge to protect coal industry workers.
Flanked by Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O'Connor and Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment and Resources and Northern Australia, Jason Clare, Mr Shorten spruiked Labor's same job, same pay policy.
"We want to see a crackdown on dodgy labour hire," Mr Shorten said.
"We welcome temporary skilled guest labour in this country, but not when it becomes an excuse for not training Australians and for employing people in cheap exploitative labour arrangements which undermine the job security and lead to a poor experience for guest workers."
Addressing workers at the Gladstone Port Corporation he acknowledged that they had good conditions and regular pay rises but described this as "unusual".
"Australia workers, not just those on the minimum wage but millions of wage and salary earners, are experiencing the lowest level of wages growth work in 60 years," he said.
"The consequence of that are Australians are dipping into their household savings just to keep pace.
"In the past three years ... corporate profits in Australia have risen by 39 per cent, that's lovely if you are a large corporation. Wages on average have gone up 5 per cent."
He confirmed he would not sign the CFMEU'S pledge calling for support of the coal and mining industry in reference to developments that meet regulatory requirements, but was supportive of Mr Beers' decision to sign the agreement.
Mr Beers said the pledge supported mining projects that stacked up environmentally and financially while committing to the misuse of casual labour and labour hire in the industrial relations landscape.
"These are issues that are at the heart of the values here in Central Queensland so I have no issue signing the pledge," Mr Beers said.
"I signed that pledge because it reflects the views of the people that I represent and I'll fight every day to make sure works in central Queensland start getting a fair go."
On the issue of Adani, Mr Shorten refused to commit to not reviewing the environmental approvals for Adani's Carmichael mine and repeated assertions he wouldn't be bullied by environmental activists and big mining companies.
"It doesn't matter if it's a union who comes to me or a business or an environmental activist, what I'll do as prime minister is I'll work with all of those interests, but I'm not going to be the servant of any of those interests," he said.
"We're refusing to let the debate about sustainable jobs in Australia be dumbed down to one project."