Govt accused of IR 'secrecy' over unanswered questions

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Govt accused of IR 'secrecy' over unanswered questions

Labor has accused the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR)of excessive secrecy, saying the body responsible for WorkChoices had refused to answer 291 questions put through the Senate Estimates system.

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Labor has accused the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) of excessive secrecy, saying the body responsible for WorkChoices had refused to answer 291 questions put through the Senate Estimates system.

ALP IR spokeswoman, Jula Gillard, said that with Senate Estimates hearings starting today (May 21) the DEWR has emerged as the most secretive Government portfolio in Australia.

'Senate Estimates allow the Opposition to seek important information from the Government and they are bound to answer,' Gillard said.

However, she said the Government has refused to release answers from the two previous rounds of Senate Estimates.

Refused information

She said that since November, the key Government agencies responsible for WorkChoices have refused to provide any information:

  • The Office of the Employment Advocate — now known as Workplace Authority — took 142 separate questions on notice and did not provide a single answer.
  • The Office of Workplace Services — now known as the Workplace Ombudsman — was asked 149 on notice, and none were answered.

'This is an absolute cover-up,' Gillard said. 'It is akin to turning DEWR into the Secret Service. After 11 years in power, there is a culture of arrogance within the Federal Government.'

Gillard said for the latest round of Senate estimates, the Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio responded to only 2% of questions on time.

'Last week, the Federal Government instructed staff not to talk about WorkChoices; now they are refusing to answer questions posed in the Federal Parliament,' she said.

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