Mr BURGESS (Hastings) (17:24:06) — It is a pleasure to rise after the member for Yan Yean. As always, the further she goes the further she stretches it. Again today she has done exactly the same thing, talking about how the Labor Party has always been the friend of workers.
Well, tell that to the many hundreds of cleaners around Victoria whose jobs the Labor Party is destroying. Tell them that you are for the workers, when in fact what you are doing at the moment is trying to increase your union base by getting rid of 800 workers across schools across Victoria. That is exactly what this government is doing, and I do not hear anyone talking about that. This government is just absolutely cleaning out that industry, but they are cleaning out the wrong people. They are imposing large union companies because they could not get union memberships out of the existing cleaners. Those cleaners were threatened, told that if they did not join the union they would lose their jobs, and now instead of just leaving the workers that way they are now replacing them with larger companies that are already unionised.
This government has absolutely no shame. It will do whatever it takes; it will destroy people’s jobs, it will destroy little businesses that are out there cleaning schools.
Mr Richardson interjected.
Mr BURGESS — I hear the member for Mordialloc; he is in favour of these school cleaners being sacked. He is now on the record as being in favour of those school cleaners being sacked in his community, so anyone that is reading this should understand that the member for Mordialloc has just been interjecting and saying that he is in favour of these school cleaners being sacked out of his schools. Mordialloc schools should really understand that their local member is not standing up for the school council decision to employ these little companies to clean their schools and do a great job. He wants large companies that are already unionised to go in there and do less cleaning, leaving the schools dirtier for longer. He is a disgrace, the same as the rest of them. They are pushing these hardline policies that destroy small businesses and destroy jobs, and really, that appears to be the only thing that they are good at.
If the Labor Party had done any work on what this bill or what long service leave is really about, they would understand that it is actually about encouraging people to stay in employment. It is an advantage for people to stay with an employer. This bill completely changes that. It bears no resemblance to what the original policy was or what the original intent of that policy was. It is a high‑cost, concentrated, bureaucratic process that this government is well and truly renowned for. Every time it legislates it adds costs to business.
The scope of the bill will expand: we know that. That is just a foregone conclusion with the Labor Party and with this government. Look at the things that they have done to businesses, particularly in energy. Look back and see what they introduced the last time they were in government: the smart meters that were going to solve all of our ills, including sore backs. They were going to be a wonderful thing and have little cost. They ended up being an enormous cost to local communities — on people and businesses. There has been no benefit from these smart meters. What they really ended up doing was just get rid of all the meter readers. That is what the Labor Party achieved with smart meters. It allowed all of the electricity companies to go and sack their meter readers and replace them with smart meters. In the end, who paid? Not the companies. No, the consumer paid — the people out there in the consumer land of small businesses, the residents and the homes.
Add that to the things they have been doing lately with their abominable policy on energy in Victoria, closing Hazelwood — let us not make any bones about the fact that they forced Hazelwood to close — and then in the same breath banning any exploration for gas, whether that be conventional gas or fracking. Clearly we banned fracking. They have now extended the ban on conventional gas, and what are they doing about it? They are trying to let companies into all sorts of areas to try to make a profit where that profit did not need to be made. When you close Hazelwood, you put extra pressure on gas prices, and that is exactly what is happening to our community. That is what is happening to small businesses.
This bill is just another example of how this government does not care about businesses. What it does not seem to get is that when you do not care about businesses, you do not care about the employees — because without the businesses, contrary to what the member for Yan Yean was saying, you do not have jobs. We are not talking about the big end of town here; we are talking about small businesses. You are now going to impose significant costs on small businesses out there, and where is that supposed to come from? If you think for one second that that extra cost is not going to cost jobs, then you are delusional. This government seems to just go along doing that. It adds cost after cost and then expects plaudits when it reduces slightly the costs it has already imposed.
Today’s budget was really quite a joke in that respect. We saw the Treasurer standing up here reading out from his budget speech and looking around like he should be congratulated on reducing costs that he had already imposed. This government does not get how business works. It does not seem to understand that when you impose costs on business, particularly small business, you really impose costs on employment, which means it is going to cost jobs. When you cost jobs, you cost Victorians and Victorian families, and they do it tough.
The government has forced up the cost of energy in this state such that we now have people for the first time having to consider whether they are going to turn on the heating, whether they are going to have the lighting on or whether they can afford to eat this week, because those costs are not something that can just be absorbed. They are costs that these people have to find out of their finite resources. You can just go along passing legislation, closing Hazelwood and banning gas exploration, and in the end it is not you who wears it. In the end it is the small businesses out there that wear it. The employees of those small businesses and Victorian families wear it. That is what this bill is about. It is not about doing a favour for anybody. It is about perhaps giving some people an idea that they are going to get a benefit out of it, but then they will be surprised when there is no job there for them at all.
That is what this government is driving for. It obviously does not intend to cut jobs, but it just has no idea. It is negligent in the way it puts these particular pieces of legislation in place and then turns around, points at everybody else and says, ‘It was your fault’. It is not other people’s fault. It is this government’s. It has introduced this legislation. It does not understand the basis on which long service leave was introduced. It has completely changed that concept. This side of the house will not be supporting this bill.