IR changes news briefs

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IR changes news briefs

Latest news on IR changes: Govt cuts short IR debate even shorter; Treasury says there is no IR and the economy report but Labor disagrees; and Howard denies making a public statement on a potential terrorist attack to draw attention away from the new IR legislation.

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Latest news on IR changes: Govt cuts short IR debate even shorter; Treasury says there is no IR and the economy report but Labor disagrees; and Howard denies making a public statement on a potential terrorist attack to draw attention away from the new IR legislation.

Govt cuts short IR debate even shorter 

The already short Parliamentary debate on the Federal Government’s IR legislation has been cut still further so Prime Minister John Howard can go to a Wednesday night function, according to the Opposition. 

Shadow Minister for IR, Stephen Smith, said today the Government had advised the Opposition that debate on the legislation would finish on Wednesday afternoon. 

Smith said the debate was originally intended to last all week. 

‘The Government is obviously very keen to guillotine this debate, to cut this debate short and to make sure there’s no opportunity for proper scrutiny,’ he said. 

‘Then [they will] have a short Senate Inquiry and ram the thing through the Senate in the next couple of weeks.’ 

Smith said a number of issues were emerging on the legislation, including:

  • Taking out the requirement that the so-called Fair Pay Commission take into account fairness when determining the Minimum Wage;  

  • That it is not duress to require an employee to sign as a condition of employment an AWA;  

  • That employees dismissed for ‘operational requirements’ have no access to unfair dismissal provisions;

  • Individual and collective agreements being registered at the Office of Employment Advocate without requiring a check on the genuine consent of an employee, or employees generally.

Smith said the Opposition had not been told where Howard wanted to go on Wednesday night, just that ‘the matter has to be concluded by Wednesday afternoon’.

Treasury says no IR and the economy report, Labor disagrees

Treasury has denied it has provided the Federal Government with detailed advice on the economic justification for the new IR legislation. 

In a statement, Treasury says that it prepared ‘indicative estimates of employment effects under various scenarios’ before any change to the workplace relations policy was adopted. 

It says media reports to the contrary are false. 

However Labor Shadow Treasurer Wayne Swan says evidence from Treasury officials during Senate Estimates Committee hearings suggests ‘secret economic modelling of the Government’s IR proposals fails to back up its claims of more jobs and higher wages’.

Swan said despite Treasury’s best efforts yesterday to hose down the issue for the Government the transcript of the proceedings shows:

  • Economic modelling was prepared on the macroeconomic impacts of the workplace proposals under Cabinet’s consideration;

  • The modelling has not been released publicly, and nor, according to officials, is it ever likely to;

  • The modelling reached little in the way of specific conclusions about the effect of the proposals on employment and wages;

  • No subsequent modelling has been undertaken since the original Cabinet advice was provided.

‘The decision of the Treasurer to hide the initial modelling and not to commission further modelling shows a lack of confidence it would back up the Government’s claims,’ Swan said.

Terrorist story no ‘smother’ for IR laws, says PM  

Prime Minister John Howard has denied making a public statement on a potential terrorist attack to draw attention away from the new IR legislation, saying he is proud of the new laws.

Howard said the idea that the statement was ‘some giant manipulative conspiracy’ is ridiculous.

‘It’s a conspiracy incidentally that involves not only me and the Attorney-General and the Director-General of ASIO, the head of the Australian Federal Police, the Ministerial members of the National Security of Cabinet, the Leader of the Opposition, the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security and the Premiers of the six States,’ told radio announced John Laws. 

‘OK, it coincided with the introduction of the workplace relations legislation, but I’m proud of the workplace relation changes, I didn’t want them to receive less publicity.  

‘I defend those changes, I believe in them, I believe they’re good for the Australian economy, I believe they will lead to more jobs, I believe they will lead to higher incomes for people in the years ahead.  

‘So the idea that in some way something I believed in very strongly for more than 20 years I would want to smother is itself absurd.’ 

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Federal IR changes 2005
 

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