At a time when wage inequality has been rising, Australia needs strong collective action - Sky AM Agenda

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW

SKY AM AGENDA WITH KIERAN GILBERT

MONDAY, 17 OCTOBER 2016

SUBJECT/S: Unions and inequality; Royal Commission into the banking sector; ACT election.

KIERAN GILBERT: The Government is attacking Labor over the contributions of the CFMEU to the Labor Party upwards of $2 million since 2010 and arguing that's why Bill Shorten is turning a blind eye to the poor behaviour of many unionists within the CFMEU?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Kieran there's nothing wrong with unions, individuals or businesses donating to political parties. We draw the line at tobacco firms, something that our Coalition colleagues haven't always done but when it comes to donations, when it comes to a $2 million donation, let's focus on the $2 million that the Prime Minister gave the Liberal Party at the last election and hasn't yet disclosed.

GILBERT: But this goes to the whole legislation that the Government uses it's trigger for the double dissolution, the registered organisation bill and the building construction legislation as well. Do you feel that Labor should allow these through given that they were pivotal to the Government's mandate?

LEIGH: We had a mandate at the last election too, Kieran. A mandate means that you do after the election what you'd do beforehand. We'll keep our word and stand up for workers. At a time when wage inequality has been rising, Australia needs strong collective action. Unions are one of the strongest bulwarks against inequality that we have. One of the reasons that inequality has been rising so fast in Australia is because the union share in the economy has been falling. 

GILBERT: But you don't accept that the construction sector is a special case? 

LEIGH: In the construction sector unions not only argue for the weekend, the eight hour day, decent pay but also for safety standards. If you're being asked by the boss to go up some scaffolding and you don't think that scaffolding is safe then a union is one of the ways that you can make sure that the safety conditions are looked after. Here in the ACT we've seen some pretty serious workplace disasters over recent years – blokes being injured or killed. Unions are one of the ways in which we've made workplaces safer.

GILBERT: The Financial Services Minister, Kelly O'Dwyer, today will announce a new statutory body to provide better governance of financial advisers. According to the Financial Review comes ahead of another ASIC finding in the sector which shows that not just one or two groups but the big four banks have been involved in charging millions of dollars in terms of fees paid by customers for advice that was never given. Does this means we welcome this announcement by the Minister today, this new Government body?

LEIGH: We'll look at the details and make a decision when we see all of those. But I've got to make two points about this, Kieran. First of all, this is coming from a Government that fought against Labor's financial advice protections. The Future of Financial Advice legislation that we put in in Government was one of the first items of business the Coalition tried to destroy, which would have weakened protections for people getting financial advice. The second point that the Government at every turn wants an excuse to not have a Royal Commission into the banks. Labor believes that - 

GILBERT: It's not making the Royal Commission call redundant isn't it? Given all the other measures undertaken including what they're saying will be a tribunal for victims and now this statutory body to provide governance for financial advisers. It seems to have almost made any suggestion of a Royal Commission redundant?

LEIGH: Kieran, none of it is systematic. None of it allows you to go to the heart of what is wrong with banking regulation and make sure we make it better. Not just for the sake of consumers, but for the banks themselves. A Royal Commission can do systematic change, what we're seeing from the Government is putting band-aids on.

GILBERT: You've had the ACT election over the weekend, Labor had a win really no surprise there. It's tough territory the ACT for Liberals given the high numbers of public service staff and so on?

LEIGH: A cracker result for Andrew Barr and the team and I think Old Malcolm Turnbull would have welcomed much of what Andrew Barr stood for. Strong action on renewables, investment on rail as well as road, good tax reform moving away from stamp duty to land tax. The new Malcolm Turnbull launched the Canberra Liberal's campaign and he's got egg in his face as the Canberra Liberals have gone down in defeat yet again.

GILBERT: Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, appreciate your time - we'll talk to you soon.

LEIGH: Thank you, Kieran.

ENDS

 


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