SHADOW Treasurer Joe Hockey has used a speech in Brisbane to call for Australian workers to toil harder, longer and better.
He also referred to an earlier announcement to re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission, a group he likened to a "vigilant cop on the beat to crack down on industrial thuggery" on building sites.
In his lecture to the prestigious Committee for Economic Development of Australia - or CEDA - Mr Hockey said, compared to the US, electricity was twice as expensive in Australia, gas was 80% more pricey and US businesses did not have to pay a carbon price.
Mr Hockey said Australian work habits also posed a problem, as they - by his reckoning - worked fewer hours per week, fewer overtime hours, while US workers earned less because there were fewer penalty payments.
But he did not call for Australians to cop a pay cut.
"We can compete with higher wages provided our output per worker is globally competitive.
"Education, training and re-training is a key step to unlocking labour productivity gains."
The ABCC was disbanded in mid-2011 by the Gillard Government, replaced by the Fair Work Building and Construction regulator.
The former regulator fell into hot water in 2011 after it took two union organisers to court for swearing at a manager, a case the Federal Magistrate in the case described as "a waste of public funds".
Mr Hockey's speech also covered the familiar ground of rallying against the Mining Resources Rent Tax, carbon price and the Federal Government's credibility with the business community.
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