AWA changes 'reek of cynicism', says Labor

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AWA changes 'reek of cynicism', says Labor

Labor today called the Howard Government's changes to AWAs a 'desperate political manoeuvre and a cynical pre-election stunt'.

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Labor today called the Howard Government's changes to AWAs a 'desperate political manoeuvre and a cynical pre-election stunt'.

'The cynicism just reeks, doesn't it?' said Opposition IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard. She said that if the Howard Government is re-elected, 'it will be back to business as usual'.

'[Prime Minister John Howard] really believes in the WorkChoices laws we have today, he has told us so every day of the last 12 months and re-elected he will go back to what he believes in, and they are laws that allow Australian working families to get ripped off,' she said. 'The government has said for 12 months, these are good laws, they are fair to working families, the Australian economy relies on them.

'They get within four or five months of an election day and go, oop! time for a political manoeuvre — and that is all this is about. If you believe the laws are good laws, why are you changing them? You would have to have said they were bad laws, otherwise you wouldn't be changing them.'

New South Wales Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca, says the fairness test is based on award conditions that the WorkChoices legislation abolished and it lacks credibility.

'The Commonwealth's own data shows 45% of Australian Workplace Agreements already breach every minimum award condition previously guaranteed by the Prime Minister,' he said. 'So there's no reason to believe that these latest changes will be enforced when the existing inadequate protections are routinely ignored.'

The Secretary of Unions NSW, John Robertson, says the changes are only designed to try and minimise the electoral fallout from the new IR laws at the coming election.

'The Prime Minister is not really talking about protecting these rights, he's talking about some trick that he is trying to play on the Australian public to make them think that he has listened to what's happening out there,' he said.

Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, denied he is bowing to public criticism by scaling back the Government's WorkChoices legislation, or that it is an admission WorkChoices is unfair.

'This is not about overturning any reforms, this is about putting in place a stronger safety net,' he said.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said Australian workers will not be fooled by the changes.

'These laws are bad, John Howard's admitted that today, but tinkering at the edges won't make them good laws,' she said. 'Working families will see through this. We will continue to campaign against these laws - the only way you can fix these laws is to see them thrown out.'

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