I want to start by recognising the merit in Senator Sheldon bringing these complaints to the chamber and the need for them to be properly investigated. If people are mistreated by large companies, or by small companies, they deserve justice. I note that there has been significant change in employment markets or, I suppose, work arrangements, with the rise of companies like Deliveroo and Uber, and it's probably not unusual, therefore, that our laws might be lagging behind some of those developments. We should look at those things, and that's why we have an inquiry on at the moment to investigate them.

I'm not sure that Senator Sheldon has the solutions just yet. I know he was only able to make a brief contribution, but I'm not sure I necessarily heard solutions. It's one thing to say it's simple and that it's not as complicated as the minister says. But I have been speaking with a few Uber drivers—they're the main ones I interact with; we don't have Deliveroo in Rockhampton, so I don't get that. Some of them really do like the flexibility they get, so I'm not so sure they want to go to a regulated, centralised, unionised environment just yet. Through the inquiry, I will very much make sure that the workers are front and centre of what this parliament should do.

The matter of public importance before us here today is quite an achievement by the Labor Party. I believe they put forward an MPI containing about 19 words. They criticise the Morrison government for failing wage growth, for lack of action on wage theft and for increasing the amount of insecure work. It's quite an achievement—in just 20-odd words, the Labor Party have been able to squeeze in three misleading statements, and sometimes flat-out wrong statements.

In the case of failing wage growth, that is just not true. Wages have not been falling. In fact, over the time of the coalition government, when you take out the effects of inflation, real wages have gone up by 0.7 per cent a year, slightly above the 20-year average of 0.6 per cent a year. Nominal wages have gone up even more, but that's not a fair comparison. So there is definitely not a fall in wages. Of course, we would like wages to be growing higher and better than they have been. As a nation, we do have an issue with productivity growth. That is something that must be focused on, which is why we want to lower taxes, which has been opposed by the Labor Party; why we are providing more tax incentives for capital accumulation through the instant asset write-off changes—they have been very successful; and why we are reforming the overall industrial relations scheme.

This MPI also accuses the coalition government of not acting on wage theft. I'm trying to spend a minute on each of the Labor Party's three misleading statements. I don't have time to go through all of the action that the Commonwealth government has taken, but I believe we have put aside $160 million towards increasing the compliance of people engaging in wage theft. We are going to create a new criminal offence for the dishonest and systematic underpayment of one or more employees, carrying a maximum penalty of four years. We will also be increasing civil penalties and prohibiting employers from advertising jobs with pay rates below the minimum wage. We have seen some shocking examples of underpayments, effectively wage theft, in recent times and, in response to those, the Commonwealth government has taken, and will continue to take, action.

Finally, on the idea that insecure work is increasing, I think Senator Sheldon was quoting that last year somewhere around 60 per cent of the jobs were part time. It may be news to Senator Sheldon that we're in a global pandemic. There was a global pandemic going on and it makes sense, in a time of that global uncertainty, that perhaps there were going to be a lot of companies, a lot of businesses, not offering full-time jobs because, obviously, when you offer a full-time job you're making a commitment over a number of years and you would want to have a fairly certain economic environment to make such a commitment. It's not at all unusual that, in times of global uncertainty the likes of which we haven't seen for a hundred years at least, in terms of the health issue of the pandemic, there would be an increase in the proportion of jobs going to part time. But, in good news, recent employment data, which I don't Senator Sheldon concentrated on, shows 60,000 full-time jobs were created in the last month. That is a massive number and it gives us hope for the future.

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