Federal IR legislation introduced - Labor calls for TV debate on new laws

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Federal IR legislation introduced - Labor calls for TV debate on new laws

The ALP wants a televised public debate between Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kim on the new IR legislation (introduced into Parliament this morning) before the laws are passed.

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The ALP wants a televised public debate between Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kim on the new IR legislation (introduced into Parliament this morning) before the laws are passed. 

Opposition spokesman for IR, Stephen Smith, moved in Parliament this morning after the new Bill was tabled that: 

‘That resumption of the debate on the second reading be made an order of the day for a sitting following a debate on the Bill between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, to be screened on national television as a matter of national importance, so that Australians can form their own opinion on this legislative proposal without the Prime Minister hiding behind his $55 million taxpayer funded Liberal Party advertising campaign.’ 

Referral to House Committee defeated

Smith also moved that the Bill be referred immediately to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Workplace Relations and Workforce Participation, saying it was ‘completely inappropriate for the House to consider this Bill further without the opportunity for proper scrutiny, which the Government is desperate to avoid’. 

This was defeated on party lines. 

Smith described the new legislation as ‘this extreme, unfair and divisive Bill’.

ALP attack

Smith said it represented a savage attack on:

  • the living standards of working Australian families; 

  • the Australian way of life, in particular our national characteristic, value and virtue of a fair go; and 

  • the rights in the workplace of working men and women.

The Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005 is 687 pages long, with a 565-page explanatory memorandum.

After it was tabled by Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews, Shadow Minister Smith argued it was a breach of standing orders to proceed with the debate when ALP members did not have copies of the Bill or the explanatory memorandum. 

It was, he said, an ‘abuse of power’ by a Government.

After the Speaker rejected the ALP’s position following more copies of the legislation being distributed in the Lower House - only two were available when Andrews tabled the Bill - the Opposition moved dissent to his ruling. 

Second Reading debate adjourned

The second reading debate, which was due to begin today, will be adjourned following the Minister’s second reading speech. 

It will now start tomorrow and continue next week. 

This gives the Opposition just 24-hours deal with the detail of the legislation.

No copies of the Bill were available to the Coalition party room when it was approved yesterday.

The Bill

Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005  - access page

The Bill is on the Parliament website

Related 

Federal IR changes 2005  

 

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