Slashing cleaner's wages simply not good enough

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:38): Those of us who are regularly in parliament house would know that the place simply could not function without the work of our cleaners. They are the first in in the morning and they are generally the last to leave in the afternoon. If you look at the pay rates of people who work in this place you will see the Prime Minister and the Treasurer near the top of the pay tree, and the cleaners down the bottom. Against this, you have to ask yourself this: where is the morality of a government decision that slashes the wage rates of some of the lowest paid workers in this place by between $175 and $225 a week? What makes it worse is the sneaky way in which it was done. It was buried within over 500 pages of regulation repeals on the great big repeal day. It was not the subject of any press release, because the government did not have the guts to put their name to it.

When the workplace relations minister was asked why he was getting rid of Clean Start, he said, 'We will leave it to the industrial ombudsman.' Memo to the workplace relations minister: we did that. When the ombudsman last looked at the pay rates of cleaners he found that over 40 per cent of them were not even being paid the minimum award wage. So you have to ask yourself what values drive this government, because if it is slashing the wages of the lowest-paid workers, it is simply not good enough.