Fed Govt under more IR attacks

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Fed Govt under more IR attacks

Business groups funding a new pro-WorkChoices advertising campaign should first return the millions of dollars of taxpayers' money they received from the Howard Government to educate employers about them, the ACTU says. The Howard Government has appointed 20 people to the AIRC, of which 14 have been from employer organisations and only two have had union backgrounds.

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Business groups funding a new pro-WorkChoices advertising campaign should first return the millions of dollars of taxpayers' money they received from the Howard Government to educate employers about them, the ACTU says. The Howard Government has appointed 20 people to the AIRC, of which 14 have been from employer organisations and only two have had union backgrounds.

Give back taxpayers' money if you want to fund ads: ACTU

Business groups funding a new pro-WorkChoices advertising campaign due to start in the next few weeks should first return the millions of dollars of taxpayers' money they received from the Howard Government to educate employers about them, the ACTU says.

ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, said the Business Council of Australia (BCA), as well as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), and other big business lobby groups are reported to be contributing up to $10.5m the campaign.

The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) has been reported to be donating $750,000 for funding the campaign.

Outrage

Burrow said it is an outrage for business groups to be spending large amounts of money on a pro-Liberal Party advertising campaign 'when these are the same groups that received almost $4m from taxpayers to promote John Howard's WorkChoices laws when they were first introduced'.

'Having received so much taxpayers' money to promote the introduction of IR laws, it is wrong that they are now funding a pro-Liberal Party, pro-WorkChoices ad campaign in the lead up to the Federal election,' she said. 'The Howard Government's WorkChoices Employer Assistance Program (EAP) handed out over $40m of taxpayers' money to business groups including $600,000 to the Australian Mines and Metals Association, and over $3.4m to the State branches of ACCI to "educate" employers in using the new IR laws.

'The fact is that many employers used their knowledge of the new IR laws to rip off workers by removing penalty rates, overtime pay and other entitlements in the first year that WorkChoices was introduced.

Mouthpieces for Govt

'John Howard has been pressuring business groups to run an ad campaign in support of WorkChoices for a number of months and the fact that business groups are willing to put their hands in their pockets shows that they are just a mouthpiece for the Government.

'This big business advertising campaign is about nothing more than self-interest and ensuring that big employer groups hold onto their new-found power under the Howard Government's unfair IR laws.'

Grants paid to employers

The ACTU said the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations Annual Report 2005-06 (Appendix 8), regarding consultancies entered into in 2005-06 for 'WorkChoices Employer Advisor Program' showed the following grants were paid:

  • Australian Mines and Metals Association - $600,000
  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry of (WA) - $371,200
  • Commerce Queensland - $749,800
  • ACT and Region Chamber Of Commerce and Industry - $99,550
  • Business SA - $541,459
  • Chamber of Commerce - $135,000
  • Aust Business Limited (NSW Business Chamber subsidiary) - $1,500,000
  • TOTAL - $3,997,009

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Howard's AIRC appointments 'biased to employers', says Gillard

The Howard Government has appointed 20 people to the AIRC, of which 14 have been from employer organisations and only two have had union backgrounds, Labor's IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, has told business groups.

Addressing a lunch in Melbourne that included representatives of the Master Builders Association and the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, Gillard said that if elected, Labor wanted appointments to its Fair Work Australia system to 'reflect the balance inherent in Labor's industrial relations system so that it serves the nation and is never able to be impugned as a body of political appointees'.

Bipartisan procedure

'Appointments will not be biased to one side or the other,' she said. 'That is why Labor has committed to a rigorous and bipartisan procedure for making senior appointments to Fair Work Australia. The shortlist will be scrutinised by a panel that also involves public service officials from each State that wishes to participate.

'Before making any recommendations to Cabinet, the Minister must also consult with the opposition spokesperson for industrial relations and the head of Fair Work Australia.'

Gillard said the Howard Government has failed to match the promise that appointments to these roles are made on merit alone.

System will be 'lean'

Gillard also said Labor's system will be lean and 'it will definitely not be overly bureaucratic'.

'If you want to see bureaucracy gone mad, then I suggest you look no further than WorkChoices - a system which is costing $1.8bn and is now in the process of hiring an army of 600 new inspectors to implement the fairness test.

'Really, could anything better illustrate the Howard Government's betrayal of the idea of small government than WorkChoices?'

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