Mr GEPP (Northern Victoria) (14:55): I feel as if I should start this contribution with a hard hat on, because clearly the sky is falling in. The sky is falling in. With all these Chicken Little contributions we have had today, clearly the sky is falling in. And here we are—deja vu, deja vu. We are having a blue with those opposite about industrial relations yet again, and of course they twist and turn the proposition that is before the house into something that it is completely not.
It is not Mr Davis’s motion. Let us give credit where credit is due, Mr Finn; it is Mr Finn’s motion. Not once have we heard about the prospect of some decency, some rights and some entitlements to be returned to the most precarious workers in our economy, those people who can least afford to be exploited in our system. Not once have we heard from those opposite how this pilot project may actually benefit those people. And why? Well, we know why. We know why. Because it is in their DNA. It is in their DNA to keep those at the bottom of the scale down there and hungry. They want to keep them down there; they want to keep them hungry. And if you can deny them their rights and if you can have a single point that determines on a day-to-day basis the working hours, the working conditions and the pay of individuals in these jobs, then you keep them hungry. You keep them where they belong, don’t you, at the bottom of the scale.
Let us have a look at the people who often work in these environments. They are the people who are working in the unskilled workforce. They are the people who are living from day to day, hand to mouth, who are sitting nervously by their telephones each day waiting for a phone call to come through or maybe a text message to say, ‘Guess what, we’re going to give you some work tomorrow. We’re going to give you some work tomorrow—or maybe we’re not’. The system of casualisation in this country has been bastardised.
Let us go back to its origins, when it actually meant something. Let us take the nursing profession. We have all been in the public hospital system with temp or agency nurses who are replacing nurses because of a shortfall, often due to illness, and the system is regulated properly. It is properly regulated, and people are paid a decent wage. All of those things are above board, and it is done the correct way. But of course in many other parts of the economy we see these people working from hand to mouth, day to day. I see Mr Barton is here in the chamber, and Mr Barton would be very familiar with this in terms of the taxi industry, the Uber industry, the courier industry—the drivers network. It is a given and a constant that these people are working from day to day, hand to mouth, and of course they cannot afford not to turn up for work. Because it is not just about getting a sick day’s pay, albeit that is what this pilot is designed to do; these people are worried that if they do not turn up for work then they miss their next shift and the shift after that and the shift after that and are just constantly replaced and constantly churned.
So the proposition before us from the opposition is not about a new tax. This is about a pilot to reinstate rights and dignity for working people who can least afford to be exploited in the industrial relations system. It is abhorrent that any worker in the Victorian economy can be treated vastly differently to the rest of us simply because an employer decides on their category of employment. If you support that proposition, then you ought to vote for Mr Finn’s motion—and if you do, shame on you.