Gillard puts Easter deadline on IR Bill

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Gillard puts Easter deadline on IR Bill

IR Minister Julia Gillard wants the Opposition to truncate its Senate inquiry into the legislation to abolish AWAs and get the Bill passed by Easter.

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IR Minister Julia Gillard wants the Opposition to truncate its Senate inquiry into the legislation to abolish AWAs and get the Bill passed by Easter.

Shadow IR Minister Julie Bishop yesterday announced a policy backflip by the Coalition and said it would vote for the legislation, but still wanted the Senate inquiry to go ahead.

The inquiry is due to report to Parliament at the end of April 2008, but Gillard said there are still a couple more weeks of Parliamentary sittings before Easter (which comes very early this year, with Good Friday on 21 March).

‘The challenge for the opposition now is not to go out to a press conference, but actually do the right thing and to pass Labor’s Bill to end Australian Workplace Agreements before Easter,’ she said.

‘Delaying tactics’

‘The parliament is sitting a couple of more weeks before Easter. They could have a Senate inquiry and still deal with the Bill in that timeframe, but they have delayed dealing with the Bill until the May–June sitting.

‘So, rather than them supporting us and helping us get rid of AWAs, they are basically guaranteeing that they continue for a few more months.’

Gillard said the Government would not accept an amendment by the Opposition which would push the individual transitional employment agreements (ITEA) out to a five-year cut off, rather than the two-year one proposed in the legislation.

‘Any amendment they move is unacceptable,’ she said. ‘Our policy was endorsed by the Australian people and this piece of legislation puts the Australian people’s mandate into law. We are not going to tinker with that, we believe in what the Australian people voted for, that’s our Bill.’

Gillard said the Opposition is ‘still in the thrall of WorkChoices’.

‘Bury WorkChoices’

‘If they are fair dinkum about this then they should basically agree with Labor; that our Bill can be through this Parliament before Easter and we can start giving WorkChoices a decent burial as compared to the messy process they’re engaging in.’

Gillard said the Opposition Senate inquiry should take the same period to deal with the Government’s legislation as it was given by the Howard Government to deal with WorkChoices.

Prime Minister John Howard and Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews pushed the WorkChoices legislation through a Senate Committee in three days.

Not a squeak from Coalition over WorkChoices mouse-mats

Meanwhile, Labor has found 97,898 WorkChoices mouse-mats along with 436,000 WorkChoices booklets put in storage by the Howard Government.

IR Minister Julia Gillard said the WorkChoices ‘propaganda’ was costing the taxpayers $930 a month in storage fees.

‘While paper products can be pulped and recycled; unfortunately the 97,898 WorkChoices mouse-mats cannot,’ she said.

But rather than see them go to waste, the Federal Government has sent a mouse-mat to every Coalition Senator and MP for their official use.

This week, the Government sent what was left of the six million WorkChoices booklets - which came to 45 pallets or four truckloads - off to be pulped and recycled.

Gillard said the total cost of printing, storing, distributing and recycling the six million booklets has totalled approximately $2.2million of taxpayer funds.


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