IR silence will drive voters to put the LNP last

Malcolm Turnbull’s silence on Productivity Commission recommendations to cut penalty rates and introduce enterprise contracts will drive more Queenslanders to put the LNP last in tomorrow’s federal election.

Queensland unions say the federal Coalition – despite calling the election on the premise of restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission – has kept silent on its plans for working rights and conditions.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said federal workplace relations minister Michaelia Cash was treating Queensland workers with contempt by refusing to outline Coalition plans for penalty rates, enterprise contracts and labour hire.

“These are all issues that concerns hundreds of thousands of workers and businesses throughout Queensland.

“Instead we’ve seen a small-target federal Coalition more concerned with distracting voters from those issues that keeps families up at night – decent secure jobs, fair wages and being able to get community services they need like health and education.

“These issues are really hitting hard in electorates in north and far north Queensland, in places like Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton.

“We’ve been asking federal minister Michaelia Cash for several weeks to outline her government’s position on these critical issues.

“The silence is even more concerning after recent comments from former prime minister John Howard who said industrial relations was “unfinished business” and the government had not ruled out changes.

“Now we hear that the federal government has nearly completed negotiations with India on a free trade agreement. After the concerns over implications for local jobs in the China Free Trade Agreement, the federal government seems very eager to avoid any debate on an Indian Free Trade Agreement.

“It’s important that workers have all the facts in front of them to make a decision.

“With more than one in four Queenslanders already having voted in pre-poll it’s not good enough for Malcolm Turnbull to leave it to the last minute – or not at all – on major changes that could cost local jobs and regional economies,” she said.

“It will only drive more voters to put the LNP last when they make their decision tomorrow,” she said.

Ms McLennan said it showed how out of touch the LNP leadership had become with the priorities facing Queensland families.

“While the richest in our society are receiving tax cuts the federal Coalition hasn’t raised a peep against the big end of town’s push to cut weekend penalty rates which will strip billions from economies across the state.

“And the LNP’s plan for young jobseekers is churn-and-burn internships on $4 an hour while cutting training and education funding that would actually make a difference.”