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Go Home On Time Day

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia) (3.59 pm)—I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 120 standing in my name for today relating to Go Home on Time Day.

Leave granted. Senator SIEWERT—I move the motion as amended: That the Senate:
(a)    notes that:
(i)    overwork is a significant problem for many Australian workers,
(ii)    research by the Australia Institute has shown that the typical full-time employee works 70 minutes of unpaid overtime a day, which equates to six and a half standard working weeks a year,
(iii) excessive working hours can have negative consequences for physical and mental health, for relationships with loved ones, and for the broader community, and
(iv)    to focus attention on the ongoing problem of work/life balance, Wednesday, 24 November is National Go Home on Time Day, an initiative of the Australia Institute that is supported by beyond-blue, VicHealth, the Australian Health Promotion Association, the Public Health Association of Australia, and many other organisations; and

(b) acknowledges the positive and simple message behind Go Home on Time Day, and encourages employees and employers to take part on 24 November.

Senator CASH (Western Australia) (4.00 pm)—Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT—Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator CASH—Another day in the Senate and what do we have today? We have another stunt from the Greens. Today the Greens are pushing their publicity buttons and desperately angling for some media exposure by pushing National Go Home on Time Day.

I referred last Thursday to the publicity stunts performed on a daily basis by the Greens. But I do not want anyone to get too excited by this stunt, because it is a re-run by the same Greens assisted by the same Australia Institute of the same motion run around the same time last year. And let us face it, hardly any workers took this stunt seriously. And guess what? Not even the Greens took the stunt seriously. It is utter hypocrisy. On 25 November 2009 Senators Bob Brown and Milne did not even heed their own advice— more’s the pity—as Hansard clearly shows them working well past the knock-off time they urge upon others and feign their support for. We will be watching the good Greens tomorrow to see if they actually let their staff off at 4.51 pm.

But this is the interesting bit: National Go Home on Time Day is the invention of Richard Dennis, the executive director of the left-wing think tank, the Australia Institute, and National Go Home on Time Day, we are told, is an initiative of the Australia Institute. The real fact is that it continues to be promoted by an incestuous bunch of Greens and the unions. Surprise, surprise—the facts also show that Richard Dennis is a former senior strategic adviser to Senator Bob Brown. And guess who is on the board of the Australia Institute. Ben Oquist, Senator Bob Brown’s chief of staff, is on the board. No doubt he will be looking to knock off early tomorrow, at 4.51 pm. Then add Lin Hatfield Dodds, the Greens Senate candidate for the ACT at the last election, Sharan Burrow, Barbara Pocock and Meredith Edwards—and you have all of the usual suspects. But it gets better. Then there is Sarah Maddison, Chair of the Australia Institute, who last month joined the board of GetUp!—another left-wing La-bor-Greens front which bills itself as independent, when it is anything but.

When are the Greens and the unions going to stop trying to deceive Australians with these sorts of fronts and stunts? The Australia Institute is even using National Go Home on Time Day as a fund-raising vehicle for the institute. That says it all.

Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania— Leader of the Australian Greens) (4.02 pm)—I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT—Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator BOB BROWN—The one thing that we cannot accuse Senator Cash of having is a sense of humour, let alone a sense of decency when it comes to thinking about the fact that people do want to go home on time. She quotes a Senate Hansard record talking about Christine Milne, my fellow senator, and me. We did go home on time. The time was set and that was the time that we went home. If Senator Cash is saying that senators’ work is entirely limited to the hours we sit in this place, she has a different work schedule to mine and I wish her luck.

Senator Cash also said that this is a stunt by left-wing people and so on. If we were to take that rather grizzled and mean-minded approach, there would be no Mother’s Day, there would be no Father’s Day, there would be no Earth Day and we would have no Thanksgiving Day. It all would have been nastily shut down at the outset. Sure it comes from the Australia Institute and the good people she has mentioned, including Dr Richard Dennis—and good on them for wanting to make our society think a little bit more about spending more time at home with our families. It is not a bad idea.

Question agreed to.

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