Govt praised for 'keeping most of WorkChoices' (1)

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Govt praised for 'keeping most of WorkChoices' (1)

One of the staunchest defenders of WorkChoices has praised the Rudd Government for keeping most of the controversial IR legislation of its predecessor, saying Labor’s proposed legislation is 'WorkChoices Lite'.

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One of the staunchest defenders of WorkChoices has praised the Rudd Government for keeping most of the controversial IR legislation of its predecessor, saying Labor’s proposed legislation is 'WorkChoices Lite'.

In an editorial today (Monday), The Australian newspaper says that if there is one skill politicians have taught voters in the past generation, it is the ability to ‘read between the lines’.

‘Let's face it, nothing a government says any more can be taken at face value - even when it's talking to its own side,’ the editorial says.

‘Labor's long-winded workplace reforms are a case in point. Consider the perspective of a card-carrying union member who donated a significant slice of his hard-earned pay to the ACTU's campaign against the WorkChoices laws at the last federal election.'

Orwellian menace

‘To this builder or public servant, Labor's slogan "Forward with Fairness" has suddenly acquired the menace of Orwellian double-speak, due to the policy Julia Gillard released last week.'

‘The impression Gillard clearly wanted to leave last year was that WorkChoices would be torn up. We can report, with some relief, that the Deputy Prime Minister meant no such thing.'

‘Tearing up WorkChoices suggested a return to the pre-2004 regime, before the Coalition won control of the Senate and introduced its most radical and ultimately least popular economic reform.'

More retained than repealed

‘Gillard has explicitly rejected the Year Zero approach by retaining more of WorkChoices than she will repeal. The Rudd Government has accepted the premise of WorkChoices, which held that the Australian economy required another wave of workplace reform.’

The Australian says that to appreciate what has been conceded by Labor, ‘imagine how the brothers in the union movement would have reacted if the previous government had introduced the following after the 2004 election’:

  • a system that allows small businesses to hire and fire as they please in the first 12 months and to give one verbal warning after that period

  • secret ballots before any strike is called and nit-picking limits on the circumstances in which workers can go on strike

  • and the right for employers to dock the pay of striking workers even if the strike is lawful.

‘Ouch,’ says The Australian.

‘Labor was opposed to all these ideas at the 2004 election, and remained hostile to the notion of workplace reform during Kim Beazley's second stint as leader in 2005–6 - a time, incidentally, when the ACTU's campaign against WorkChoices was well under way.'

Assault on union power

‘The Gillard package would have been seen in 2004 as an assault on union power.'

‘Gillard is winding back WorkChoices, not scrapping it. The threshold test for the Government's workplace agenda is the role it envisages for the unions. Gillard has given the ACTU no obvious angle with which to increase their membership base.’


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