Bill Shorten

What really matters in a workplace, what helps an employer if you’ve got a unionised workforce is if your shop stewards know the rules of the game, if your safety reps are taught to be able to examine situations to make sure the workplace is more safety. Better informed delegates, better workplace safety saves companies money. Unions are very good at safety. We are good at teaching delegates how to resolve disputes.

The whole time I was a union leader, we had to put up with John Howard and Tony Abbott attacking workers’ conditions. I’m proud of being a moderate trade union official, working co-operatively between employees and employers. I’m interested in better wages for workers, better safety, job security, and, profitable companies, because I understand that if you get co-operation in the workplace, everyone wins.

Modern Australian trade unionism and the unionist that I am doesn’t rely on a class war view that somehow that the interests of employees and managers are in two separate spheres and they’re irreconcilable. I believe that when people can go to work and be happy, satisfied, engaged, where the employer is getting employees who feel their interests are aligned with the employer, you get productivity. This is the future of Australian workplaces.

Fleeing persecution is not a crime. And we do not seek to pander to a noisy, tiny minority who will never embrace modern multicultural Australia. But there are important truths we must face. There is a history and a reality that we cannot ignore. The challenge before us is real, the questions we grapple with as elemental as life and death.