Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Politics Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature





On the Stump in the big House on the Hill



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 matter.


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.........


Commonwealth Bank

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..........



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 Mussolini.





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 tax regime.

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........ 


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. 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

City Link

Kennett Government


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)

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