Libs pledge moratorium on IR laws

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Libs pledge moratorium on IR laws

Labour's new IR system will be left alone for three years under a Coalition Government, leader Tony Abbott has promised in his first announcement of the 2010 election campaign.

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Labour’s new IR system will be left alone for three years under a Coalition Government, leader Tony Abbott has promised in his first announcement of the 2010 election campaign.
 
Aware the unpopular WorkChoices laws cost the Coalition the election in 2007, Abbott moved to take the IR issue off the agenda only hours after PM Julia Gillard announced the election on Saturday.
 
In a speech to the LNP in Queensland, Abbott announced an incoming Coalition Government ‘would not seek to change the Fair Work Act at least for the three years of the next term of Parliament’.
 
It would also retain Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman.
 
‘WorkChoices is dead. I’ve said that before. Today I’ve not just buried the body but cremated it too,’ he said.
 
‘An incoming coalition government will seek to make Labor’s individual flexibility agreements more flexible and seek to reduce the burdens on small business but we will do so within Labor’s existing legislation.’
 
‘Labor’s Fair Work Act is far from perfect, but it deserves a fair go. If any changes are needed, we will seek a mandate for them at the 2013 election.’
 
The controversial Australian Building and Construction Commission will be kept under existing legislation, because it is a ‘strong cop on the beat’ for the industry, Abbott said.
 
‘Trashed own brand’
 
The Coalition leader also acknowledged the party had ‘trashed its own brand’ when it introduced WorkChoices under then PM John Howard.
 
‘If there was one policy on which the coalition lost the last election, it was workplace relations,’ Abbott said.
 
‘Trust will only be restored by demonstrating, over time, that the coalition again has the steady hands in which people’s job security and pay and conditions can once more safely rest.’
 
Change ‘never be ruled out’
 
However, his shadow IR Minister, Eric Abetz, appeared to contradict his leader later the same day, by refusing to rule out making ministerial directions or changes to the IR regulations.
 
‘We would only be tweaking,’ he said.
 
‘It would be very brave to say you would never have to tweak a regulation or make a ministerial direction.’
 
‘... those sorts of things can never be ruled out 100%.’
 
‘But the framework — the legislation — we give a guarantee to the Australian people we will not be seeking to change that fundamental framework.’
 
‘Weasel words’, say Labour
 
The admission was immediately seized upon by Labour, with newly appointed IR Minister Simon Crean accusing Abbott of using ‘weasel words’ now that an election has been called.
 
‘Under Tony Abbott WorkChoices is never dead,’ Crean said.
 
‘Australian people should not believe him and need to look at his form.’
 
‘His initial words today on WorkChoices are nothing more than a ploy to get him though an election campaign.’
 
‘Tony Abbott is using weasel words to avoid what we all know — that he wants to take Australia backwards and bring back extreme WorkChoices, under a different name.’
 
The Federal Election will be held on 21 August.
 
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