Awards, AIRC under attack in new IR changes - says  Minister

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Awards, AIRC under attack in new IR changes - says Minister

The ACTU has accused the Federal Government of planning to remove ‘even more workplace conditions and rights from Australian employees’ if it wins the next election, following the revelation of comments made by Finance Minister Nick Minchin.

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The ACTU has accused the Federal Government of planning to remove ‘even more workplace conditions and rights from Australian employees’ if it wins the next election, following the revelation of comments made by Finance Minister Nick Minchin.

The changes could include the abolition of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and all awards.

The ABC has gained access to a tape recoding of an address by Minchin to the hardline HR Nicholls Society in which he revealed that the Government is planing ‘another wave’ of industrial relations changes if it wins the 2007 Federal Election.

He said the Government would need a mandate from the electorate for this new wave of IR changes and apologised to the Society that the current IR changes did not go further.

High Court challenge may succeed

According to the AM radio current affairs program Minchin also told the HR Nicholls society he could not understand why colleagues Kevin Andrews (Workplace Relations Minister) and Philip Ruddock (Attorney General) are ‘so relaxed’ about the High Court challenge to the new industrial relations laws.

He warned the Government had appointed conservative judges to the High Court, and they could well be conservative about using the Corporations Power to override the States.

State system takeover - a minefield

Senator Minchin also said the unintended consequences from taking over State IR systems were ‘mind-boggling’.

It was unbelievable, he told the conference. Every Cabinet meeting, the Workplace Relations Minister would come back with yet another issue that had emerged from taking over the state systems.

He also said most Australians ‘violently disagree’ with the recent IR changes.

ACTU call

ACTU President Sharan Burrow today asked Minchin to clarify what other basic rights for workers the Government planned to take away.

‘Exactly what other basic entitlements does Finance Minister Nick Minchin think that Australian working families can afford to lose?’ she asked.

‘It seems that John Howard and Nick Minchin will stop at nothing until all Australian workers are on an individual contract that has wages and conditions equivalent to China or India.’

Burrow released what she said were extracts from Minchin’s address:

‘but I think we do need to seek a mandate from the Australian people at the next election for another wave of industrial relations reform’.

‘This is evolution, not revolution, and there is still a long way to go... awards, the IR Commission, all the rest of it...’

‘Poll after poll demonstrated that the Australian people don’t agree at all with anything we’re doing on this - we have minority support for what we’re doing’.

Beazley comments

Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says Senator Minchin has revealed a Coalition plan to create dictatorships in the workplace.

‘We see from Senator Minchin that the Government intends to go through another round of industrial relations changes to utterly create dictatorships in the workforce, workplace, against the interests of the average Australian,’ he said.

NSW State Industrial Minister John Della Bosca says Senator Minchin has made the Government’s ‘true intentions’ known.

‘He’s saying that whatever little bit of Australia’s working rights and family entitlements are left after the Work Choices reform, they’ll take them away at the next election,’ he said.

‘What it means is that no matter what the Prime Minister says, no matter what distractions he conjures up, no matter how cleverly the Prime Minister disguises it, the Howard Government is committed to further slashing family living standards and the Australian lifestyle.’

Personal views only

A spokesman for Federal Finance Minister Nick Minchin said the Senator was ‘expressing personal views’, and not Government policy, in his remarks to the HR Nicholls society.

However Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Stephen Smith says Senator Minchin, who is Government Leader in the Senate, is ‘very senior and has revealed the truth’.

‘You can’t speak from a personal point of view if you are the number three person in the Government,’ he said.

‘If he’s talking about a mandate, where was their mandate for the current changes, let alone [him] letting the cat out of the bag on the Government’s ideological obsession in wanting to go much further?’ Smith asked.

‘It’s quite clear he’s gone to a meeting of people whom he regards as friends and colleagues, and he’s told them the truth.’

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