Govt to give Labor no time to read IR legislation before debate

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Govt to give Labor no time to read IR legislation before debate

The Federal Government will bring on debate on its new IR legislation almost immediately after it is tabled in Parliament next Wednesday, despite the fact it is believed to be 600 pages long.

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The Federal Government will bring on debate on its new IR legislation almost immediately after it is tabled in Parliament next Wednesday, despite the fact it is believed to be 600 pages long. 

Stephen Smith, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, said yesterday that Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews had rung him on Tuesday night to tell him the legislation would be brought to Parliament next Wednesday. 

‘He also advised me that after an interlude where a piece of health legislation would be dealt with, the Government would bring the debate on immediately,’ Smith said. 

‘This is of course just part of the Government’s efforts to avoid scrutiny on the detail of its legislation, to try to slide this through before the community really appreciates just how vulnerable they are.’   

Avoiding scrutiny

He said the Government was avoiding the scrutiny of the House of Representatives by bringing on the debate immediately, and was restricting the Senate inquiry to effectively five days.   

‘Even when John Howard had Peter Reith, his Alsatians and his balaclavas, the Senate inquiry went for two to three months,’ Smith said. 

‘This whole process angers me because what we find is a Government drunk with power, arrogantly ramming things through the Parliament.’ 

Smith said that on the basis of what Labor has seen so far ‘there’s not merit in any of these proposals whatsoever’.   

Driven by ideology

He said he was not ‘holding my breath’ for any National Party or Liberal Party Senator to cross the floor on the IR legislation.   

‘John Howard has made it clear to his Party Room, as he put it; these are articles of faith for them,’ he said. 

‘This is about the Liberal Party and National Party ideology. This is about political ideology and zealotry.  This has nothing to do with good public policy or good economics or good harmonious workplaces.’ 

Major issue next election

Smith said the IR legislation ‘will be a defining living standards issue at the next Federal election in 2007’. 

He said if Labor wins the next election it would move to bring in an IR system underpinned by fundamental principles such as ‘a strong independent umpire, sensible minimum standards, sensible safety nets, proper rights for people who are unfairly dismissed, and sensible rights of collective bargaining’. 

He said Opposition Leader Kim Beazley had made it clear Labor would abolish the Fair Pay Commission and have an independent umpire to set the minimum wage.

Related

Federal IR changes 2005  

 

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