Abbott sticks to ‘no more WorkChoices’ policy

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Abbott sticks to ‘no more WorkChoices’ policy

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has rejected a call from hard-line former IR Minister Peter Reith to toughen up the Coalition’s workplace relations policy, despite persistent calls from front and backbench MPs to do so.

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Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has rejected a call from hard-line former IR Minister Peter Reith to toughen up the Coalition’s workplace relations policy, despite persistent calls from front and backbench MPs to do so.
 
Mr Reith said yesterday that Australia’s IR system was ‘not good enough’ and was going backwards.
 
‘I say we can’t afford not to fight this issue,’ he said.
 
‘We cannot abandon issues that we know must be addressed. Australia will be a lot of worse off if we sit mute, frightened to do the right thing. MPs are not in parliament to avoid issues; their job is to tackle the real issues, the difficult issues,’ he said.
 
Spooked
 
‘Because Labor won the election, in part by attacking Howard’s WorkChoices, they were able to spook the Coalition into giving up on workplace relations.’
 
Mr Abbott said he had noted Mr Reith’s advice but planned no changes to the Opposition’s IR policies.
 
‘Our policy is crystal clear,’ he said.
 
Mr Abbott has said that a Liberal Government would make no major changes to IR policy in its first term, and it was up to the business community to make the case for future changes.
 
IR Minister Senator Chris Evans yesterday seized on Reith’s remarks, and similar statements by MP, and former IR adviser to the Howard Government, Jamie Briggs.
 
‘Let off the chain’
 
Mr Evans said the ‘Liberal Party’s WorkChoices warriors have been let off the chain to continue their campaign to bring back extreme industrial relations policies’.
 
‘The comments by ideological war horse Peter Reith confirm yet again the Liberal’s obsession with its extreme industrial relations policies,’ he said.
 
Evans said Reith is playing a critical role in the Liberal Party’s federal election campaign and [will] be very influential in shaping the Liberal party’s policy platform at the next election.
 
‘Peter Reith has ensured the spectre of WorkChoices continues to threaten Australian workers,’ he said.
 
‘It only took a matter of hours before Liberal MP Jamie Briggs rallied behind Reith’s calls to wind back the Fair Work Act.’
 
‘Brigg’s simple tweet that “Peter Reith is right” is a clear signal that Liberals are being encouraged to join the campaign to bring back WorkChoices.’
 
Abbott can’t hide
 
‘Someone has let the dogs out and Abbott can no longer hide from this issue.’
 
Evans said ‘WorkChoices always was and always will be at the heart of the Liberal Party’s industrial relations agenda because it is at the heart of the Liberal Party.’
 
‘Reith joins a growing chorus of senior Liberals and backbenchers who are determined to return to extreme industrial relations policies.’
 
‘Andrew Robb, Joe Hockey, Steve Ciobo, Jamie Briggs, Chris Back and Nationals Senator John Williams are all campaigning to a return to the policies of the past.’
 
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