Hockey makes Rudd 'lie' claim but seems confused

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Hockey makes Rudd 'lie' claim but seems confused

Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, has accused Labor Leader Kevin Rudd of telling 'a blatant lie' in the latest ALP election ad - but seems to confuse the truth himself in the claim

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Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, has accused Labor Leader Kevin Rudd of telling 'a blatant lie' in the latest ALP election ad - but seems to confuse the truth himself in the claim

Labor's ad, which went to air this week, has Rudd saying: 'Most Australians think Mr Howard's WorkChoices laws have gone too far, cutting basic rights like overtime, penalty rates, leave loadings, not to mention job security.'

'This is untrue,' Hockey said in a statement. 'The Fairness Test, like the old no disadvantage test before it, ensures that any worker who trades off penalty rates, leave loadings or other conditions will receive fair compensation.'

No disadvantage test was dropped

However, what Hockey fails to acknowledge is that when the new AWA provisions were introduced on 27 March 2006, the 'no disadvantage test' was completely dropped, and Government statistics show many workers did have their overtime and penalty rates removed without any compensation at all.

Public uproar

When polls showed public opposition and concern, the Government decided to act more than 13 months later, and the Fairness test was introduced on 7 May this year. By that time the Government's WorkChoices legislation was clearly unpopular - so much so that Prime Minister John Howard ordered Government Departments to stop using the name.

Hockey also claimed today that under Labor's Fair Work Australia system any business in which there was even one union member would find itself having to negotiate a union collective agreement.

Legal advice and union bargaining

Quoting legal advice from the legal firm Freehills (which the Government commissioned to write much of the original WorkChoices legislation) Hockey says that Labor's IR policy states: 'Employees who are union members will be able to be represented by a union.'

He says that Labor's policy also states: 'Where employees covered by a collective agreement were represented by a union in bargaining, the union will be bound by the agreement.'

Hockey takes this to mean that if one employee is a union member then the union will be part of the agreement for all the other employees who are not union members.

Wrong, says Gillard

However Labor's IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, says this is wrong.

'Under Labor it will be possible for an employer which employs both union members and non-union members to make an enterprise agreement which the union plays no role in the making of, and with which the union does not agree,' Gillard told The Australian newspaper.

'Under Labor's system, unions have no automatic right to be involved in collective enterprise bargaining.'

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