Business not let down by fairness test, says Howard

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Business not let down by fairness test, says Howard

The complexity of the fairness test on AWAs has not let business down, according to Prime Minister, John Howard.

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The complexity of the fairness test on AWAs has not let business down, according to Prime Minister, John Howard.

And both he and Finance Minister, Senator Nick Minchin are vowing they will not go further with the WorkChoices laws - but Treasurer Peter Costello declined to commit to resigning if that happened, as Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey has done.

'Misreading'

Howard rejected the claim that half of all AWAs are being rejected by the Workplace Authority for failing the fairness test, saying that this was 'a complete misreading and misreporting of what has happened'.

'What has happened is that of the workplace agreements that have been lodged and fully processed since the introduction of the fairness test, 5% have failed the fairness test,' he said. 'What you've got to bear in mind is that if an agreement is lodged and the Authority writes back for more information, that doesn't represent rejection. Of those that have been completely processed, about 5% have failed the fairness test.

'And when they fail the fairness test, then people revert to the award or the previous agreement. So that indicates to me that the fairness test is working and working very effectively.'

Fairness test 'working'

Asked by a reporter if this meant too much red tape for business, Howard said it meant the fairness test was working.

'But have you let employers down by creating a system that's too complex for them?' he was asked.

'Well, I don't think employers have been let down if they're making record profits and we have a 33-year low in unemployment,' Howard said. 'The real test of an economic policy, the real test of an industrial relations policy, is firstly does it help generate profits for business and does it help generate jobs for employees and the evidence clearly is that more jobs have been created, and business is doing very well. It's a double benefit.'

Pay cut for apprentices

Meanwhile Treasurer Peter Costello has rejected a call by HR Nichols Society Secretary and Liberal Candidate in Makin, Bob Day, that apprentices should earn 10% to 15% of what a tradesperson's wage is.

Costello was a founding member of the HR Nichols Society, and an interviewer put it to him that he therefore 'disagreed' with the Society.

' ... I agree with the Federal Government,' Costello said. He revealed last week that he had let his membership slip because the Society had criticised his policies.

Not seeking further mandate

Senator Minchin told the HR Nichols Society last year: 'There is much more to do [on industrial relations reform] and I pray that we remain in Government and remain in a position to be able to make and effect further change. I hope we don't wimp on it. I think we need to go to the next election to seek another mandate.'

At the weekend Minchin was asked: 'Minister, has the Government already "wimped it", as you say there, or are you seeking a mandate at this election for further reform?'

'We are not seeking a mandate for further reform,' Minchin said.

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