Call for halt to political ‘to-and-fro’ on IR system

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Call for halt to political ‘to-and-fro’ on IR system

The President of the Australian Institute of Employment Rights (AIER), Michael Harmer (a prominent industrial lawyer), has called on all sides of politics to stop playing ‘political football’ with the Australian workplace relations system ahead of the pending federal election.

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The President of the Australian Institute of Employment Rights (AIER), Michael Harmer (a prominent industrial lawyer), has called on all sides of politics to stop playing ‘political football’ with the Australian workplace relations system ahead of the pending federal election.
 
With the Federal Coalition leading News Poll for the first time since the last election, Australian employers and employees face the potential of a further significant shift in the federal workplace relations system, should there be a change of government.
 
Speaking at the 2010 Annual Conference of the Industrial Relations Society of NSW recently, Harmer said, ‘Australian employers, employees and their representatives have spent massive sums in the last decade constantly adapting to changes in the workplace relations system’.
 
‘We need to stabilise our system, and focus more on improving the quality of the players within it, and the workplace culture they generate, if Australia is to achieve genuinely safe, productive and harmonious workplaces.’
 
‘Australia has many major advantages as a country in world competitiveness. We fail however to reach international benchmark standards in business leadership and workplace culture.’
 
‘Australia needs to invest more in achieving cultural change, particularly in improving the quality of our enterprise bargaining processes and outcomes; increased workplace flexibility; and reduction in the levels of sex discrimination, harassment and bullying — rather than in chasing a system kicked from one end of the political spectrum to the next,’ he said.
 
The AIER presented a submission to the Federal Government last year suggesting evidence demonstrated that the greatest investment the government could make in preventative health in Australia was via improved workplace culture.
 
Harmer is calling on the Federal Government to convene a roundtable on workplace relations with a view to increasing consensus on a stable long-term mooring for the system.
 
WorkChoices return is ‘gospel truth’, says Gillard
 
Meanwhile, the posturing continues with IR Minister Julia Gillard saying yesterday that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s statement that only what he says in ‘carefully prepared, scripted remarks’ are ‘gospel truth’ means that WorkChoices is back on the table.
 
Abbott has repeatedly said that the former government has learned from its mistakes and would not be bringing back WorkChoices.
 
However, Abbott said he would reintroduce individual workplace agreements and lift the unfair dismissal provisions on small business.
 
Tax backflip
 
Last night on the 7.30 Report program, Abbott admitted that he said in February a future Coalition Government would not bring in any new taxes, and then announced in March a $2.7 billion tax on major corporations to fund his parental leave scheme.
 
‘I know politicians are going to be judged on everything they say but sometimes in the heat of discussion you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark,’ Abbott said.
 
‘Which is one of the reasons why the statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth [are] those carefully prepared, scripted remarks.’
 
‘Most of us know when we’re talking to people, or listening to people, when we can put absolute weight on what’s being said and when it’s the give and take of standard conversation.’
 
‘Heat of verbal combat’
 
‘All of us when we’re in the heat of verbal combat, so to speak, will sometimes say things that will go a little bit further.’
 
Abbott was asked specifically about other pledges, such as the promise to reintroduce Australian Workplace Agreements but with the Rudd Government’s safety net of terms and conditions.
 
‘That is a very considered position,’ Abbott said.
 
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