Hendy under pressure at ACCI following Rudd win

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Hendy under pressure at ACCI following Rudd win

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has issued a lukewarm statement of congratulations to the newly elected Rudd Labor Government, amid media reports that ACCI Chief Executive, Peter Hendy's position is under threat.

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The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has issued a lukewarm statement of congratulations to the newly elected Rudd Labor Government, amid media reports that ACCI Chief Executive, Peter Hendy's position is under threat.

Hendy is a former Chief of Staff to previous Liberal IR Minister, Peter Reith and was described as a 'Liberal Party operative' by new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd during the election campaign.

Bennett 'biased' says ACTU

Also under threat is the head of the Workplace Authority, Barbara Bennett, who ACTU President, Sharan Burrow has called on to resign, saying Bennett was 'biased'.

ACCI's five sentence statement contrasts sharply with more effusive and conciliatory messages of congratulations from other employer organisations such as the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group (AiG) and the NSW Business Chamber.

ACCI says it is looking forward to building a constructive relationship with the new Labor Government and bluntly lists its priorities as tax, skills shortages and reforming Commonwealth/State relationships.

On the key issue of industrial relations, on which ACCI strongly sided with the outgoing Howard Government, it simply says it will be seeking an early meeting to discuss Labor's proposed new IR laws.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports today that Hendy will come under pressure at ACCI's board meeting this week.

Can't work with Labor Govt

The Herald says a faction within the Chamber is trying to oust Hendy, with some board members concerned at his management style, and worried he will be unable to work with the new Labor Government.

However another group is likely to support Hendy, and the incoming President, Tony Howarth, said: 'I can assure you nothing will happen to Peter Hendy this week.'

Lost influence

Hendy has undoubtedly lost his influence with the defeat of the Howard Government. His role in the waterfront dispute is well remembered by the trade union movement and likely new Labor Minister, Greg Combet, who was an official of the ACTU at the time and ran the maritime union's protest.

When seeking input from business, Labor Ministers are far more likely to turn to AiG head, Heather Rideout, who kept her organisation out of the pro-WorkChoices business advertising campaign and is now likely to reap the benefits. ACCI was a strong player in the ad campaign.

Meanwhile ACTU President, Sharan Burrow has called on Barbara Bennett to resign as the Workplace Authority Director.

Role was 'highly political'

'I would say to Barbara Bennett she cannot possibly have the trust of working people and should resign,' Burrow said. 'Her role was highly political and, quite honestly, biased. She was out there advocating for WorkChoices, directly and indirectly.'

The Labor Government plans to abolish Bennett's agency and incorporate it into Fair Work Australia.

Julia Gillard, who will be the new Industrial Relations Minister, has said a number of times that all appointments to the new agency would be made 'entirely on merit' - however it is highly unlikely Bennett will survive.

Bennett has a five-year contract from July this year, but offended Labor and significant people in the public service by appearing in television advertisements to promote WorkChoices.

Former Public Service Commissioner, Andrew Podger said her appearance was unprecedented and wrong for a neutral public servant.

Related

Rudd says ACCI head a 'political operator' for Howard

Rudd wrote reference for anti-union business leader

Public servant accused of 'taking sides' in WorkChoices ad

Public servant 'politicised' to give Govt ad credibility: Gillard 

 

 

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