Bishop takes hard line as new IR battle begins

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Bishop takes hard line as new IR battle begins

For the first time Federal Parliament will see two women facing off against each other over industrial relations.

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For the first time Federal Parliament will see two women facing off against each other over industrial relations.

The Opposition's new IR spokeswoman Julia Bishop has signalled she is not prepared to roll over on WorkChoices. At a press conference yesterday following the election of Brendan Nelson as the new Opposition Leader, Bishop stated she would defend what she saw as the benefits of the current IR system.

WorkChoices ‘dead’?

Despite the previous Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey saying the WorkChoices was ‘dead’ and Labor had a mandate to abolish it and AWAs, Bishop was not backing off and both she and Nelson said they would wait for Labor’s legislation before deciding whether to oppose it.

Asked ‘where do you stand on WorkChoices now?’ Nelson said the Party’s position on workplace relations is that ‘it is extremely important that we do not do anything which undermines the capacity of employers in this country to create wealth’.

Won’t undermine employment

‘We will not support legislation or policy which undermines the employment prospects of everyday Australians,’ he said.

‘Obviously we will want to see the legislation that is proposed by the Labor Party and by Mr Rudd before specifically commenting on it but it’s extremely important that we have and we support an environment that continues to see jobs grow.’

Bishop said her State of WA had had workplace agreements since 1993 at a state level, and from 1996 [federally].

‘Those workplace agreements, particularly in the Pilbara, have led to very stable and strong workplace relations,’ she said.

Industrial action

‘It has ensured that there has been little, if any, industrial destruction in the state and we have been seen by the world as a reliable supplier as a result.

‘Now, we must ensure that the legislation put forward by the Labor Government does not, in any way, destroy job creation or harm our mining sector, which is providing such an incredible boost to the Australian economy.

‘We must ensure that their legislation does not harm small business that provides so many jobs for Australians, particularly young Australians, and we must ensure that the long term unemployed continue to receive opportunities that they would not otherwise have received.

Expose flaws

‘So when we look at their legislation very carefully. If there are major flaws, it’s our responsibility to expose them.’

So, despite the election result and the role WorkChoices played in it, it seems the IR battle is not over. In fact it may be just beginning a new phase.

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