Labor’s conspiracy theory on Libs WorkChoices dilemma

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Labor’s conspiracy theory on Libs WorkChoices dilemma

Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello may be at war over the leadership, but Howard has pointed out that they are united on the Government’s ‘extreme’ industrial relations changes – and Labor has offered a theory as to why the PM did so.

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Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello may be at war over the leadership, but Howard has pointed out that they are united on the Government’s ‘extreme’ industrial relations changes – and Labor has offered a theory as to why the PM did so.

Devious plan

Labor says Howard has a devious plan to stop Costello, and the party, from backing off on some of WorkChoices more contentious elements.

Shadow IR spokesman Stephen Smith said John Howard yesterday told the ABC’s Insider program that:

‘…commitment to industrial relations reform is an article of faith of many people. Peter Costello to his credit has been a warrior for industrial relations reform. He was after all, involved in the Dollar Sweets case. He was a founding member of the HR Nicholls Society. Peter is no wilting violet when it comes to a tough position on industrial relations reform. He believes in it very strongly. So it is not just me, although it is true that I am very passionate about it.’

Handcuffed to IR

‘The Prime Minister’s handcuffing of Peter Costello to the Government’s extreme industrial relations changes is particularly insightful,’ Smith said. ‘The message from John Howard today is that he and Peter Costello are at one on this issue.

‘This is not just a message to the Australian people: it is a clear message from John Howard to the Liberal Party room.

‘John Howard also knows that one of the things greatly troubling the Australian people is his extreme industrial relations changes. While Peter Costello and leadership might come and go, the Government’s extreme industrial relations changes will be there day in, day out for the rest of this Parliament and at the next election.’

Smith said Howard doesn’t want anyone in the Liberal Party room to support Peter Costello for Leader because they think the Treasurer will soften the Government’s industrial relations approach. On the contrary, Peter Costello could be even more extreme.

Howard won’t take the hit

‘John Howard has today put down a marker to his Parliamentary colleagues that he is not going to “take a hit” on industrial relations all by himself,’ Smith said. ‘The Prime Minister fully intends to take the Treasurer with him.

‘The Prime Minister knows that the Treasurer cannot lay a glove on him at the moment. Today he has manoeuvred to ensure that Peter Costello cannot distance himself in the future from the Government’s extreme industrial relations changes.’

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