Howard's IR plans impact on State politics

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Howard's IR plans impact on State politics

The Federal Government’s forthcoming industrial relations legislation will be a key factor in two Queensland State by-elections.

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The Federal Government’s forthcoming industrial relations legislation will be a key factor in two Queensland State by-elections. Meanwhile retired NSW Premier Bob Carr has told the union movement that John Howard’s determination to run ‘roughshod’ over states’ rights helped drive him from office.

Howard’s IR plans a factor in Qld by-elections

The Federal Government’s forthcoming industrial relations legislation will be a key factor in two Queensland State by-elections.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) Qld State Secretary Andrew Dettmer said the plan to set up a national IR system to supplant the State system will be the major issue in the Redcliffe and Chatsworth by-elections.

IR is State issue too

Dettmer said Queensland premier Peter Beattie was right to put this issue at the centre of the by-election campaigns.

‘People shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking this is simply a Federal issue, because it is very much a State issue and the Queensland Liberals and the Liberal candidates in those two seats had better decide, and quickly, where they stand on it,’ Dettmer said.

‘Over 70% of Queensland workers, or nearly one million people in a workforce of about 1.7 million, are covered by State awards, collective agreements or workplace laws.

‘The Federal Government’s plan to abolish the State industrial relations system has serious implications for them and their families. Thousands of those people live in the electorates of Redcliffe and Chatsworth.

‘And with most of the rest covered by federal awards or collective agreements the issue is also important for them, because the Federal Government wants to further restrict their rights and bargaining power with the new federal industrial relations Act.’

Dettmer said the Chatsworth and Redcliffe by-elections are the first electoral opportunity for Australians to ‘send the Howard Government a clear message about these controversial and unfair changes to State and federal workplace laws’.

‘Based on the feedback officials are getting from delegates and members in those electorates, AMWU members and other working people will certainly be taking that chance,’ he said.

‘Do the Queensland Liberals and their by-election candidates support the retention of the current State industrial relations system and the protections it provides the majority of wage and salary earners in Redcliffe and Chatsworth?

‘Or do they support the federal Liberal plan to reduce people’s rights at work and their bargaining power?’

Howard’s grab for states’ powers hastened Carr’s departure

Retired NSW Premier Bob Carr has told the union movement that John Howard’s determination to run ‘roughshod’ over states’ rights helped drive him from office.

Bob Carr told the union website Workers Online that Canberra’s power grab had whittled away the ability of state governments to deliver services.

In recent years the Howard Government has aggressively imposed its ideology on health, education, transport and industrial relations - threatening to withhold funds from states who won’t toe the line on matters such as IR.

The Howard Government refuses to provide federal funding for construction projects unless federal IR practices apply on site, such as the offer of AWAs.

States losing power

Carr admitted that after 10 years in power it had weighed on considerations of his future.

‘It is a pronounced pattern,’ he said. ‘They are reducing the power of state governments.

‘Industrial relations is only the most obvious example, and I have got to say, it was a factor, yes.’

Carr predicted Howard would find he had gone a step too far with his radical plan to strip entitlements from Australian workers.

He described that agenda as ‘absolutely’ a weakness and said it had welded state, federal and industrial Labor together in an alliance capable of winning the next federal election.

The full story can be found here.

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