The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK
[3.38 p.m.]: Today I refer to the transformation of The Greens, who have gone from greenies to noxious weeds. The Greens in this place claim that they are the friend of the worker and the farmer. However, it seems that the words and actions of The Greens are not always in tune. The Shooters and Fishers Party has continually pointed out that the Greens are not the friend of the workers, and now the Greens have proven it. Two days ago in this place we heard from the Woollahra Green—not the Walcha green, wherever that might be—that he has been defending the workers. But the reality in worker land is different.
Early last month Marrickville Council, which is run by The Greens, pulled a stunt that would not have been out of place on the waterfront a few years ago. The Greens were at the forefront of criticism of the Federal Government's actions on waterfront reform. However, what happened at Marrickville was a bit like watching a replay, but this time The Greens are in charge of crushing workers. We all know that the council's garbos and recyclers, who were taking legitimate strike action over serious industrial problems at the council, were stealthily replaced by outside labour.
As I understand it, over the past four years, under the watchful eyes of The Greens, led by that well-known Middle-East peace broker, Mayor Fiona Byrne, the council has introduced approximately 15,000 green waste bins without proper consultation with workers. It seems the council simply introduced the bins in the hope that the green waste fairy would find a magical way of collecting them. The council forgot to introduce any structures or any new trucks or equipment to collect them. The garbos have been struggling with the increasing workload and the lack of council investment in new equipment. When they said enough was enough, they took the only action left to them and went on strike. The council knew they were going to take that action. One would have thought that The Greens—the champion of the workers—would have been trying to negotiate a resolution.
The day before the strike took place, the council's general manager—supported by the council's senior management, The Greens and Mayor Byrne—told the workers union that the green waste collections and contract would be advertised in the newspaper on the weekend. There was no consultation by the "workers champions", just a blunt instrument response, which I am told was in breach of the industry award. The workers saw the management response as a provocative and well-planned operation to bust them and their union, aided and abetted by The Greens councillors. And what was the Mayor's response when questioned? That is simple. She washed her hands of the whole issue and stated:
It's not our problem—that is between the General Manager and his staff ... it's an operational matter.
Here we have a Greens-led council hiding behind the general manager, and when they are questioned about it they hide behind the weak lily-livered excuse that it is "an operational matter" between the staff and the general manager. What have these Green hypocrites done to date about the general manager and his anti-worker policy and disgraceful actions of bringing in contract labour to do the work of striking workers? They gave him a pay rise. That is what the noxious weeds have done. They have rewarded the general manager with a pay rise. Those Green hypocrites talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk, they fail dismally. They have been caught out by the very people they purport to represent.
Is it any wonder that some people in Marrickville consider the council's actions against the garbos and recyclers on 7 July as the day The Greens became the noxious weeds. They believe The Greens are more concerned about human rights in Palestine than caring about workers' rights in Marrickville. The Greens claim to be the worker's friend. Well, that was certainly blown apart in Marrickville. When they had the chance to stand up and support workers at Marrickville what did the Greens-controlled council do? It employed scab labour, who were hiding down the street in some hall. They gave them the keys to the trucks and sent them out to undermine the striking workers. I am told that if any scab worker refused to do what they were told they were threatened with hefty fines by their labour hire employer. Is that consultation? No, it is escalation.
This Parliament should condemn Green hypocrites for their disgraceful attack on workers. They continue to hide behind the general manager. They have been running the workers down, bagging Graeme Kelly and the United Services Union, and using big end of town lawyers against poor old garbos, who have been pounding the road for decades and loyally serving the ratepayers of Marrickville by clearing the garbage 365 days a year. In return what do the garbos get? They get the big end of town lawyers. One can only hope the noxious weeds are eradicated and removed from office and that the ratepayers elect a decent caring council—one that really cares about them and the issues that concern Marrickville instead of human rights issues in Palestine.