Costello quit H R Nicholls Society over 'unkind criticism'

News

Costello quit H R Nicholls Society over 'unkind criticism'

Under pressure from Labor, Treasurer Peter Costello has revealed that he is no longer a member of the right-wing H R Nicholls Society which favours the complete deregulation of the labour market, and which he helped found.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Under pressure from Labor, Treasurer Peter Costello has revealed that he is no longer a member of the right-wing H R Nicholls Society which favours the complete deregulation of the labour market, and which he helped found.

The H R Nicholls Society opposes all awards and other structures for the relationship between employers and employees, saying wages and conditions should be worked out by mutual agreement.

It also bitterly opposes any affirmative action to give women wage parity with men, or even the concept of a minimum wage.

Challenge

Labor's IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard yesterday challenged Costello to reveal his current status with the Society, saying his relationship with it showed he would push WorkChoices even further if the Liberal Party won the election and he then took over as Prime Minister.

'He will strip the safety net back to just the minimum wage - he is on the record as wanting to do that,' Gillard said. 'He will make sure no Australian could take an unfair dismissal claim - he is on the record as wanting to do that.

'He is on the record as wanting to privatise our Australian Industrial Relations Commission. And we know the whole Howard Government is committed to making sure WorkChoices hits every Australian, [including] nurses, teachers, fire-fighters, all of our essential service workers.'

Costello was asked about the issue at a press conference yesterday.

Journalist: 'Julia Gillard said you remained a member of the H R Nicholls Society. Do you remain a member of that organisation, and do you share that organisation's mission for further workplace reform?'

Unkind about economic policies

Costello: 'No I am not a member, and I am not a member because I think the Society said unkind things about my economic policies. And I didn't see why I should continue to send a subscription fee to people who are critical of my policies, to be frank.'

Costello last week accused Gillard of having 'communist' associations because she had once been a member of the Socialist Forum, and returned to that attack at yesterday's press conference.

'Can I say something about Julia, because I am aware that Julia went to great lengths in a speech today to engage in personal sledging, and I will make two points about Julia,' Costello said.

Fear and smear campaigns

'The first is, as I recall, she began the campaign by saying the Coalition would engage in the mother of all fear and smear campaigns. And I must say, Julia has outclassed us. Absolutely outclassed us.

'The second is, for those people who are really interested in political history back to 1986, can I recommend they do a close look at the Socialist Forum? Because in 1986, it was about to be proscribed by the ALP.

'And the then organiser, Julia Gillard, wrote very interesting missives on why it shouldn't be proscribed for its communist links. She wasn't just a typist and a tea lady in the Socialist Forum.'

Personal sledging

Asked whether she was engaging in 'personal sledging' against Costello, Gillard said the Australian people are entitled to know his views if he is next in line to be a Liberal Prime Minister.

'If the Prime Minister's case is it didn't matter whether or not he told the Australian people about WorkChoices at the last election because they kind of knew he was that sort of guy, then we are entitled to know what sort of guy Peter Costello is,' she said. 'And the fact that he was a founder of the H R Nicholls Society, he has been continuously involved in it, and they believe in extreme industrial relations reform, is part of what makes up Peter Costello.

'Australians are entitled to know it before the election because he could end up Prime Minister in a matter of months.'

Gillard accused Costello of trying to 'slide' into being Prime Minister without facing appropriate scrutiny.

Related

Costello attacks Gillard's 'Communist' past

WorkChoices system not 'Stalinist' says employer group
 

 

Post details