Transcript: Jenny McAllister on Public Sector Bargaining, the IPA, Hadgkiss, Scott Morrison and the Uluru Statement

11.50am | October 24, 2017






SUBJECT/S: Public Sector Bargaining, John Lloyd and the IPA, Hadgkiss, Scott Morrison, Uluru Statement

SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER: Good morning, I wanted to make few remarks about Senate Estimates yesterday, and just talk a little bit about what we learned. The government’s hostility to working people, to their representatives, to their workplace conditions was all on display yesterday with the appearance of the Australian Public Service Commissioner, Mr John Lloyd. When asked about Australia’s low wages growth and how it relates to the approach that the Australian Public Service takes to bargaining with public servants about their wages, Mr Lloyd was completely unable to provide any information at all that indicated that he is taking this issue seriously, or indeed even considering it. Mr Lloyd confirmed that he has not consulted with Treasury at all about the macroeconomic impact of public sector bargaining. He confirmed that he does not have an economist on his staff that can provide advice about this question, and he confirmed or, he could not name a single economist outside of his organisation that he had consulted.

This comes at a time, when the Reserve Bank governor has called on employees to ask for more wages, and said that if they did so it would be a good thing. It comes at a time, when the CBA’s chief economist has said that the failure of wage growth is a market failure, and that government ought to intervene, and yet asked about this very significant question, Mr Lloyd could provide no credible response.

What he does do, however, it appears, is spend quite a lot of time undertaking media monitoring for the IPA [Institute of Public Affairs] and Senate Estimates was able to explore with Mr Lloyd the reasons for his ongoing correspondence with unknown members of the IPA. Unusually, he jests in this correspondence about, I guess, a contest between himself and an unnamed person about who is going to have the mantle of IPA pin-up boy. He also seeks to make appointments with some unnamed person at the IPA to develop a strategy in response to comments made by Senator Wong. This is extraordinary evidence from one of Australia’s most highly paid public servants. Mr Lloyd has an obligation to manage the Public Service in the interests of the Australian Government and in the interests of the Australian economy and instead of doing that, he is spending his time chasing down media issues for the IPA.

He does, of course, also have time to support Minister Cash. And, having sat on the information about Mr Hadgkiss for many, many months, Minister Cash finally decided that Mr Hadgkiss’s position was untenable. And who did she go to? She went straight to Mr Lloyd to try and manage this awkward situation. Mr Lloyd reported that Mr Hadgkiss was surprised to be asked to resign. Now I think most Australians would find it very unusual that a person who is employed to uphold the laws in the workplace is surprised when he’s asked to resign for breaking the laws in his own workplace. But this is the kind of attitude that is present with the senior appointments in the Turnbull Government. It is a government that is culturally unable to take working peoples’ issues seriously and all of that was on display yesterday.

JOURNALIST: Scott Morrison will be talking today in response to a Productivity Commission inquiry. I’m just wondering, what’s your alternative vision for what he might be saying in terms of boosting productivity in Australia? What would you like him to talk about?

SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER: Mr Morrison’s single vision for boosting Australia’s economic performance over all of the time he’s been the Treasurer has been tax cuts for Australia’s largest businesses and for multinational corporations. He has failed to express any vision about technology in the workplace, any vision about workplace skills, any vision about managerial competence. He is unable to consider the industries of the future. This is a government absolutely devoid of an economic plan and I don’t expect today’s remarks to demonstrate any departure from that track record.

JOURNALIST: It’s been five months since the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Indigenous leaders are concerned that constitutional reform might be forever sidelined, or is at risk of being forever sidelined. Do you think that is a risk?

SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER: I think it is extraordinary that the government has not yet responded to the Uluru Statement. From opposition, Labor is keen to engage with Indigenous people, with First Nation’s people about their aspirations. I do not understand why this government cannot find it within themselves to do the same thing.

JOURNALIST: Applications for Australian citizenship have spiked since the Senate blocked the government’s proposed changes in that area. I was just wondering what you thought about that, if you have any comments?

SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER: I think it is terrific if long term permanent residents seek to become citizens of this country. The government’s attempt to restrict and limit the ability of permanent residents to sign on to Team Australia and become full citizens was extraordinarily misguided policy. I’m very pleased that it has been ditched. I’m also pleased that Australians are taking the opportunity, or potential Australians are taking the opportunity to become citizens and I wish them all the best in that journey.