Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria)– I rise to make a few comments, the first of which is that when I was first elected and came into this house in 2006 I was under the misapprehension that there would be some level of respect when it came to basic behaviours in this house. But all I have received since I have been here from the other side of the house is derisive descriptions of me, denigration of me, denigration of who I was before I came here and a denigration of the workers I have represented. After that last contribution by Mr Ramsay I am finally letting him know that I am not putting up with it any longer.
As Mr Ramsay knows, as a former leader of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), the VFF is quite skilled at parachuting people into this house, the other house and federal Parliament. Let us not talk about parachutes. One would have thought that Mr Ramsay might have done at least some of his homework. The fact is that I started work in the vehicle industry in 1988 and 1989. I was then elected by vehicle workers right across the state in elections conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission on at least four occasions. I was also elected federal president of the vehicle division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, and I sat on the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive for at least six years. Do not try to tell me that I do not have a background in this, and do not tell me that I cannot speak on behalf of people I have represented for a long time.
Mr Ramsay interjected.
Ms TIERNEY — Mr Ramsay continues to interject, which demonstrates yet again that he clearly has a problem with people who stick up for workers and represent workers.
Honourable members interjecting.
Ms TIERNEY– I put that on the table because it is becoming a little bit tiresome, particularly given that you have also represented a group within our society — that is, farmers.
You have never heard me denigrate the Victorian Farmers Federation; you have never heard me denigrate farmers.
Mr Ramsay interjected.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Finn) — Order! It would be very helpful to the Chair, and I am sure it would assist Mr Ramsay to fight his temptation to interject, if Ms Tierney were to direct her comments through the Chair.
Ms TIERNEY — In terms of the issues I raised at the beginning of the debate, there have been very few contributions from members opposite today about what they plan to do in relation to the 1200 blue-collar, non-trade workers who will be out of a job, whether it is in October 2016 or sooner, which it unfortunately may be. In saying that, I am not talking down the brand; I am not talking down Ford.
All I am doing is trying to inspire some urgency into the problem we have at hand — that is, this government needs to put its shoulder to the wheel. It needs to get off its backside and come up with some targeted redeployment programs for the people who are hurting and who will continue to hurt over the next few years.
Mr Dalla-Riva tried to make a good fist of his contribution to the motion, although he failed to come up with some suggestions on what we can do for the redundant Ford workers. But you have to ask, where is the current Minister for Manufacturing? He is missing in action. At least Mr Dalla-Riva tried, although he spent most of his time blaming other people, including the federal government, but that has been the theme that has characterised the contributions from government speakers today. That is always the easy way out, because it means you do not really have to get a handle on and focus on the issues at hand; you just flick it off and blame it on someone else.
Mr Dalla-Riva and Mrs Peulich mentioned that the sackings at Toyota last year were the result of longstanding industrial action at the plant. That is simply not true, and the record needs to be corrected. The fact is that Toyota had a down balance, and down balances mean you are required to shed labour. The problem I had with that particular situation last year is the way the company fingered workers, took minibuses onto the factory floor, shipped them over to another location, across the road from Grieve Parade, and processed them as sacked workers. Raising that issue was inaccurate and a complete mistruth.
In her contribution Mrs Peulich did not really want to talk about a plan for jobs for workers. Her plan, the only plan in town, is the government plan — that is, a plan to keep Labor out of office. All she cares about is herself and her own seat. She does not care whatsoever about Ford workers. Mrs Peulich kept on saying, ‘The unions are to blame’.
All I could think about through her contribution, and a number of contributions from other members, was, ‘Bring it on. Keep talking about it’. The more they talk about it, the more it demonstrates to everyone, particularly all those people I am going to make sure read Hansard, how members opposite do not know the industry and do not get it. I do not think they ever will get it, because they do not want to understand the industry or the people who work within it.
In terms of what happened last Thursday, all I can say is this: we are all busy people. Premiers have lots of things in their diaries, but if it had been a natural disaster, the Premier would have been there. But it was not a natural disaster. It was a disaster in terms of people’s financial situations and a situation that was no fault of their own — and no-one was home.
Honourable members interjecting.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Finn) — Order! Mr Ramsay and Mr Koch! If we could have a little bit of decorum from both sides of the chamber, that would be very helpful.
Ms TIERNEY — The first part of Mr Koch’s contribution was fairly difficult to follow. His numbering of the motion was gobbledegook and, contrary to his suggestion, he talked to issues that were not raised in my original contribution on the motion. He finally got around to mentioning Ford workers, but not until at least two-thirds of the way through his speech.
Mr Koch — It is not a motion about Ford.
Ms TIERNEY — But the motion has been brought about as the result of a major announcement made in our electorate of Western Victoria Region. It is an opportune time for us to have a discussion given that this is the first week Parliament has reconvened since that announcement. I am totally disheartened by the inability of government members to seriously talk about what the real priorities are and to discuss our proper options, because on so many levels this is a bipartisan issue. Unfortunately it seems Mr Koch has gone out of his way to distance himself from those who have been hurt by this announcement, and he has distanced himself in terms of wanting to put work into what needs to be done.
Mr Ondarchie interjected.
Ms TIERNEY — I will take up that interjection too, because it is one that has been raised several times. It has been raised with the President, Mr Ondarchie — and Mr Ramsay and anyone else who wants to get involved.
We can all smirk, can we not?
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Finn) — Order! I have requested previously that Ms Tierney direct her remarks through the Chair, otherwise there is a temptation for members on the government side to interject in a disorderly manner. It would be very helpful to me and to the proper proceedings of the house if she were to direct her comments through the Chair. Members on the government side may then find it within their power to resist the temptation to interject.
Ms TIERNEY — But in terms of the contribution I am making now and the attempts from the other side, in a meaningless way, to discredit me and what I represent and what I have represented, I will be pursuing that last interjection again with the President. He has made a ruling on this before.
He has said, ‘Put up or shut up’, and I will be pursuing this because it is central to what I said at the beginning of my contribution this afternoon — that all this is about is bullying and harassment from those on the government side to members on this side when we stand for things and say things they just do not like. Unfortunately, guys, as a woman who was in the vehicle industry for many years, I have put up with better, I have put up with bigger and I am not going to drop it. I encourage all of you to stand up for people in your constituencies and vote vigorously for this motion.