In my rugby locker I wrote DWYSYWD. In politics, I’m doing the same

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While answering questions for the Parliament House press pack on Sunday, after announcing I’d reached an agreement with the government on their IR Omnibus Bill, someone asked me how it compared to a big win on the rugby field.

I wasn’t sure how to answer. Representing Australia on the pitch was such an honour. It was a childhood dream and huge thrill. But it’s very different. Politics is not a game, for starters. And you can’t compare success in sport to the work that goes into thinking through policy that will affect millions of Australians.

Politics is a different kind of scrum.Credit:Getty Images

Knowing the work I do in the Senate will affect the lives of people right across the country is a privilege and responsibility I take seriously. Working through this bill and balancing the needs of workers and Australian households against the needs of businesses, particularly small businesses who are stretched at the best of times, was a challenge.

What we have now is a substantially different bill from the one introduced in the House of Representatives a month ago. It is better for workers and better for business, especially small business.

I know not everyone will be happy with where we have landed, and I am happy to cop that criticism. I’ve listened, I’ve consulted, and my team and I have worked around the clock to land an outcome that strikes the right balance. I’m not in parliament as a representative for big business, or be a rubber stamp for government. I’m here to consult and weigh up issues and then vote on behalf of the people of the ACT.

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There was a bit of a running joke with my local paper about how many stadiums I could get out of this IR deal, but this was too important to horse trade on. I didn’t get anything out of my agreement with the government, but the people doing it toughest in our community did. Those on low wages, those in highly feminised industries, and people who are out of work.

I’m not going to apologise for pushing for a pay rise for workers in a cost-of-living crisis as well as a pathway to stop the most vulnerable in our community being left behind. People like one of my constituents, Ben Lawton, a cleaner at Canberra hospital, who has to live in a caravan park because that’s all he can afford.

I understand there is real anxiety from small business, and protecting them and their workers – as well as subcontractors – was front of mind for me throughout this entire process. That’s why there are a heap of new safeguards in the amendments that will be moved in the Senate. As well as a commitment from the PM to address security of payment for subbies.



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