Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I rise to inform the chamber that I had the pleasure of joining the Minister for Agriculture in the other place, Joe Helper, and John Eren, the member for Lara in the other place, in visiting the M. C. Herd abattoir in Geelong North and then Steggles Poultry in Belmont on 24 January.
Honourable members interjecting.
Mr Atkinson — On a point of order, President, I apologise to the member for having to rise to interrupt her contribution, but my problem is I cannot hear her because of the constant chatter from the minister.
The PRESIDENT — Order! there is no point of order. Whilst there may be some chatter coming from all sides of the house, I will be the arbiter as to how much is allowable. I thank Mr Atkinson for his attempt to assist me.
Ms TIERNEY — I wish to thank the key stakeholders — the owners, the operating managers, the producers, the employees and their union representatives from the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union and the National Union of Workers — for providing a comprehensive tour, albeit at times somewhat graphic and confronting. The tour and accompanying discussion assisted greatly in my understanding of the issues facing the industry, and I am pleased to report that the meat and poultry industry in Geelong, unlike its products, is well and truly alive. It impressed me as being a very healthy industry with high-quality standards, a very strong training regime and a skilled, stable and highly unionised workforce.
The stakeholders have clearly equal levels of commitment towards their industry and, in the case of M. C. Herd, a solid export market to the Middle East — all positive for ongoing growth in a highly competitive industry where both unions and employers work together for the common good in an environment where instruments such as the federal government’s WorkChoices legislation would totally undermine this cooperative approach.