I'm really pleased to take on the roles of Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations and Shadow Minister for the Arts in Labor's Shadow Ministry. I’m grateful to Albo for appointing me to these roles and for keeping me on as Labor's Manager of Opposition Business.

Keeping wages low is a deliberate design feature of this Government. It has been seen through the Government's submissions to the Fair Work Commission where Government has refused to seek wage rises in real terms. It has been seen in the Government's support for cuts to penalty rates for nearly 700,000 workers.

These decisions have real impacts on people struggling to cope with household budgets.

I grew up in a small business family, ran my own business, and spent six years working as the local union organiser for retail and fast food workers. I have remained a union member since I joined at Grace Bros when I was 15.

I'm looking forward to using that experience and being on the front line of protecting people's rights to safe workplaces with fair pay.

The Arts is the portfolio central to the telling of our stories as a nation. Our creative industries are major employers responsible for the work that reaches the heart and soul of Australia. The policy work to provide a foundation for the creative sector has been a long-term passion of mine.

The slim majority held by the Government in the House of Representatives guarantees parliamentary sittings will be hard fought. As Manager of Opposition Business it is again an opportunity to cooperate where it is in the national interest and to hold the Government to account every day.

I also acknowledge the work of my predecessor Brendan O'Connor. For six years, Brendan has done extraordinary work defending Australian employees and resisting attempts from this Government to undermine rights at work. He has been trusted, strategic, and hardworking in the portfolio. His continued role in the Employment portfolio guarantees we will continue to work closely together.

Environment and Water policy has been dear to me for many years. I welcome Albo's decision to appoint Terri Butler to this role. Against a Government that has been trashing environmental protections on land, in our rivers and oceans, Terri's appointment means Labor's position is in very safe hands.

Every week I meet people who have had their opportunity to pledge allegiance to Australia delayed indefinitely by this Government's attempts to scuttle our citizenship laws. In Kristina Keneally and Andrew Giles, Albo has appointed two people who are well placed to defend modern multicultural Australia and who see our diversity as a strength rather than as a cause for fear.


Tony Burke