Coalition backs down over AWAs - IR Bill will pass Senate

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Coalition backs down over AWAs - IR Bill will pass Senate

The Federal Opposition has decided to support the Labor Government’s IR legislation and allow the immediate abolition of AWAs, backing down from its previous position.

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The Federal Opposition has decided to support the Labor Government’s IR legislation and allow the immediate abolition of AWAs, backing down from its previous position.

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson and Shadow IR Minister Julie Bishop were last night apparently rolled in a Shadow Cabinet meeting, which decided to let the legislation through. This decision was supported by a Party Room meeting today.

Nelson and Bishop were both supporters of AWAs, with Bishop arguing that the pre-WorkChoices AWAs (which contained a 'no-disadvantage test') should be maintained, while the WorkChoices AWAs (which initially had no such test but later acquired a 'fairness test') could be abolished.

Certain to lose politically

However, with AWAs inextricably linked to WorkChoices, leading figures in the Coalition argued they were ‘on a hiding to nothing’ by trying to differentiate between the two.

Fighting to save AWAs would have left the Coalition open to the allegation that if they won the next federal election they would bring WorkChoices back.

The decision may impact on the leadership of Nelson and deputy leader Bishop. They were instrumental in the Senate refusing to deal with the legislation and instead referring it to a Senate Committee, which will not report until late April.

'No longer policy’

‘The people will understand that we will not be opposing the passage of Labor’s Bill through the House, that WorkChoices is no longer part of our policy, that we will not oppose the abolition of AWAs,’ Bishop said today.

In a face-saving move Bishop said the Senate inquiry into the economic impacts of Labor’s industrial relations changes will still go ahead.

The ACTU will be delighted at the outcome because they have been pushing the point that some employers are rushing to put workers on AWAs while they can.


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