Coalition plans new IR policy, may change FW Act

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Coalition plans new IR policy, may change FW Act

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey says the Coalition will go to the next federal election with a new industrial relations policy, and has seemingly cast doubt on its commitment not to change the Fair Work Act in its first term.

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Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey says the Coalition will go to the next federal election with a new industrial relations policy, and has seemingly cast doubt on its commitment not to change the Fair Work Act 2009 in its first term.
 
Hockey said on Sky TV yesterday that it would be ‘ridiculous’ for the Coalition to go to the election without an IR policy, and said the Fair Work system was hurting productivity.
 
Shadow IR spokesman Eric Abetz promised to release an IR policy before the last election, but never did.
 
‘The thought that you’re going to have an Industrial Relations minister sit on the porch of Parliament House and smoke a cigar for three years is just ridiculous!’ Hockey said.
 
Detailed policy
 
‘We will have a detailed policy in the lead-up to the next election. People will see it, and of course we’re going to work on a policy. We’re going to work on policies in all areas.’
 
‘As each day passes I think there is more and more evidence that the Fair Work system is creating distortions in the marketplace and, far from improving productivity, it’s actually detracting from it.’
 
In the interview, Hockey confirmed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s commitment to not changing the Fair Work Act in their first term of office, saying:
‘Tony Abbott’s commitment was that we will not be changing the system in the three years of our first term of government. That’s entirely correct, and we are being entirely consistent about that. We’re in opposition, we’re not moving private members’ bills in that regard; we are being entirely consistent.’
Policy ‘as of today’
 
However, later in the interview he seemed to be saying that that policy could change, that it was policy ‘as of today’:
‘I think if you’re going to present yourself as an alternative government, you’ve got to have policies in each area. We are going to work through all the policy areas. But as it stands, as of today, our policies are the same as they were at the last election. In that regard, we’re not changing the Fair Work Act.’
Hockey said the three areas of concern for the Coalition were the unfair dismissal laws applying to small business, modern awards, and minimum hours for shifts.
 
Hockey said that setting the minimum number of hours that people can work was ‘ridiculous’.
 
Anxious
 
‘Unfair dismissal laws for small business are complex,’ he said.
 
‘I think small business is growing increasingly anxious about it.’
 
‘The modern awards, I can tell you, even at the local childcare centre, pre-school, they’re having problems with the new modern awards where they’re expected to pay staff less, not more.’
 
[Take home pay orders are available from FWA to ensure workers are not paid less than their existing wage because of the introduction of a modern award.]
 
No-disadvantage test
 
Asked whether the Coalition was ready for WorkChoices scare campaign, Hockey said he and Abbott had set about changing WorkChoices when in government.
 
‘Tony Abbott argued in cabinet against the removal of the no disadvantage test, and Joe Hockey did get it removed,’ he said.
 
‘I’m not sure that’s in John Howard’s book! I’ll have to look that one up.’
 
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