Govt just ‘tinkering’ with IR legislation, says Labor

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Govt just ‘tinkering’ with IR legislation, says Labor

If the Federal Government was serious about responding to Senator Barnaby Joyce’s criticisms of its IR legislation it would need to include penalty rates, public holidays, leave loadings and shift allowances in the minimum standards, or reintroduce the no disadvantage test, the Opposition said today.

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If the Federal Government was serious about responding to Senator Barnaby Joyce’s criticisms of its IR legislation it would need to include penalty rates, public holidays, leave loadings and shift allowances in the minimum standards, or reintroduce the no disadvantage test, the Opposition said today. 

'No fundamental change'

However Shadow IR spokesman Stephen Smith said the Howard Government had made it ‘absolutely crystal clear that there will be no fundamental changes’.  

‘All the discussion we are hearing is about tinkering at the edges,’ he said. ‘It’s about minor technical detail.’ 

‘If the Government was serious about responding to, for example, some of the suggested changes Barnaby Joyce has made, then it would need to do one of two fundamental things:

‘It would need to include penalty rates, public holidays, leave loadings and shift allowances in their so-called Minimum Standards; or it would need to reintroduce the so-called no disadvantage test, which is the measure against which the Commission makes a judgement whether people are overall subject to any disadvantage or any overall benefit.’ 

Smith said the Government has made it clear that it is not proposing to do either of those.   

‘What we see now is a discussion about tinkering at the edges,’ he said. ‘And the blunt truth here is that Barnaby Joyce and the Queensland Nationals are being sold a pup just like they were sold a pup on Telstra.’ 

In parliament this week

Smith said the Government would start consideration of the IR legislation in the Senate this week.   

‘Our expectation is that it will ram the legislation through the Senate in the course of this week, and not make any major changes,’ he said. ‘There is only one solution here and that is to kill the Bill.   

‘The Senate should reject the Bill outright and if the Senate doesn’t reject the Bill outright, then between now and the next election in 2007, Labor will make it absolutely clear, day in and day out, that when we get to Government, that’s precisely what we’ll do.’

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