Gillard playing hard ball in the Senate on IR Bill

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Gillard playing hard ball in the Senate on IR Bill

IR Minister Julia Gillard says she is determined to slug it out in the Senate to get her way on the Government’s IR legislation, which is expected to be put to a vote late today.

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IR Minister Julia Gillard says she is determined to slug it out in the Senate to get her way on the Government’s IR legislation, which is expected to be put to a vote late today.
 
The sticking point is the definition of a small employer for the purposes of the unfair dismissal laws.
 
Gillard wants the cut-off point set at 15 employees — below that it is a small business and there is a 12-month probation period in which the unfair dismissal laws do not apply.
 
The two independent Senators, Fielding and Xenophon, want the figure to be 20 employees, and the Coalition is arguing for it to be 25.
 
Won’t back down
 
Gillard told the ABC this morning that she would not back down.
 
‘I've met with [Fielding and Xenophon], I've talked to them, I've written to them and each and every time we have communicated I've said to them; “here is our policy we are honour bound to deliver it”,’ she said.
 
She said the Government will work for ‘as long as it takes’ to have the Bill passed.
 
‘I'm not contemplating any other outcome,’ she said.
 
Government Leader in the Lower House, Anthony Albanese, yesterday warned MPs that they should not expect to be able to keep to their travel plans made when the Parliament was expected to rise tonight.
 
Govt outrage
 
Senator Fielding has already outraged the government by blocking their ‘alcopops’ tax Bill, but he will face anger from the public if he is instrumental in keeping the WorkChoices legislation in operation.
 
Senator Xenophon this morning called on Gillard to compromise, saying it has got ‘99.9%’ of what it wants, and should agree to change the small business provision.
 
‘My plea to Julia Gillard is don't throw away a whole range of measures that will bury WorkChoices,’ he said.
 
‘The Government went to the people at 15 [employees] but a lot has changed since that time — the job market has worsened.’
 
‘We have a mandate’
 
However, Gillard said the Government has a clear mandate to pass the laws as they stand.
 
‘The Australian people voted for it and we will work as long and as hard as necessary to get the Senate to pass the Fair Work Bill including the unfair dismissal measures we promised the Australian people,’ she said
 
While the independents are under intense pressure to pass the legislation, the real losers could be the Coalition if they vote against it and it fails.
 
WorkChoices campaign
 
That would leave the Coalition open to a new WorkChoices campaign at the next election, with the government pointing out that they had supported its retention by voting against the Fair Work Bill.
 
Senator Fielding is expected to be swept to oblivion at the next election, as his Senate seat was won through Labor preferences, which would certainly never go his way again.
 
But the Liberals would face the full wrath of voters who want WorkChoices to be gone.
 
The Liberals are already forecasting the loss of five Senate seats if Labor takes the country to a double dissolution over the IR laws.
 
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