The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: At the outset I would like to say that it has been interesting, in recent weeks and months, to see the passionate positions adopted by some Labor members in this chamber on a variety of issues. With anything to do with fish or fishing the Hon. Mr Gazzola is to the fore in wanting to put his particular point of view, and of course the Hon. Russell Wortley, when it comes to David Hicks, was most passionate in standing up in this chamber and fearlessly and independently putting his point of view and defending the rights of Mr Hicks and the like.
Of course, in the past 48 hours a number of union leaders and injured workers and their representatives have been wanting to know where is the voice of the Labor Party, supposedly the voice standing up fearlessly and independently on their behalf and representing their views. The reality, as we understand the events of caucus meetings yesterday and today, is that all these fearless and independent advocates, who are prepared to speak up on a variety of issues—as I said, whether it is the poor fish or whether it is David Hicks or one of a variety of other causes that Labor members in this chamber are quite happy to defend and speak on passionately—are strangely silent on issues relating to injured workers.
When the legislation comes before this chamber it will be very interesting to see which members are prepared to stand up and speak fearlessly and independently on behalf of their unions and on behalf of the people and workers they previously represented, and which ones will sit fat, dumb and mute on the backbench and not say anything. Of course, these members have rolled over in the caucus in the past 24 hours and had their tummies tickled. They are quite happy; they are earning $130,000 base salary, plus benefits if they happen to be the Whip or the chair of a committee or two. They are quite comfortable; they are quite relaxed; they do not have to worry any more about the interests of the workers they formerly claimed to represent and who they reckon they still represent.
One can understand the members of the Labor right in South Australia, the wholly-owned subsidiaries of machine men and operators such as now Senator Farrell and Attorney-General Atkinson, and others. One could almost forgive the bleating silence of the Hon. Mr Finnigan, and others, on the issue, but, Mr Acting President, where are the voices of members of the fearless left—President Sneath, the Whip (Hon. Mr Gazzola), minister Gago, and the Hon. Mr Hunter? The fearless advocates of the left within the Labor Party have rolled over, had their tummy tickled and are not prepared to stand up and fight for the interests of the workers.
Time has not permitted—and time does not permit today with only one minute left—to go through some of the wonderful contributions to debates that we have heard from the Hons Mr Sneath, Mr Gazzola, Mr Wortley and Mrs Gago in recent years—and the Hon. Mr Holloway himself—whether it be on WorkCover, industrial relations or the rights of workers. However, when the legislation comes before us we will have time to explore some of those lofty proclamations made by the Hon. Mr Gazzola, and the Hon. Mr Sneath in particular, in relation to, supposedly, their passionate defence of workers and, in particular, injured workers here in South Australia.
I think the question that is being asked by union leaders and injured workers in South Australia is: where are their voices now, what are they going to do on their behalf, or was it just empty rhetoric? Now they have the opportunity to put a point of view and, if they really believed what they said before, they could vote against the legislation and do as some other Labor members in the past have done when it was an important matter of principle—they stood up for what they believed in, crossed the floor and voted against or for the legislation.