Nelson dumps all traces of WorkChoices

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Nelson dumps all traces of WorkChoices

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has distanced himself from the former Government’s WorkChoices legislation in naming his new shadow ministry. Former Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey has been shifted to the shadow health portfolio, while Kevin Andrews, the man who introduced the WorkChoices legislation and guided it into operation for two years, has been dumped from the shadow ministry entirely.

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Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has distanced himself from the former Government’s WorkChoices legislation in naming his new shadow ministry. Former Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey has been shifted to the shadow health portfolio, while Kevin Andrews, the man who introduced the WorkChoices legislation and guided it into operation for two years, has been dumped from the shadow ministry entirely.

However Nelson has not dropped IR entirely as an issue, and has indicated the party will fight to maintain unfair dismissal exemptions.

The fact that Deputy leader Julia Bishop – who by convention could have chosen any position – has taken up Workplace Relations is an indication that Labor will not be given a completely free hand to introduce their Fair Work Australia system.

Supportive of AWAs

It is not a coincidence that Bishop is from Western Australia, the state where the Liberal Party did best in the election and where thousands of highly paid mine workers are believed to be supportive of AWAs.

Nelson has also disagreed with Labor’s decision to combine the IR and Education portfolio’s under Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

‘We believe very strongly that education and workplace relations should be quite separate portfolios,’ he said. ‘It beggars belief that education is an area that can be managed simultaneously with a major and important portfolio area such as industrial relations.’

Strong voice for business

Bishop said that her portfolio of Employment, Business and Workplace Relations, reflected the fact that ‘business will need a strong voice in this parliament’.

‘Already we’ve seen worrying signs that the Labor Party will cave in to the unions,’ she said. ‘We’ve heard ominous warnings from the union bosses that they are threatening and hectoring and harassing businesses who are going about their lawful business in employing people under our laws.’

Bishop said she intended to meet with all relevant stakeholders in her portfolio, including the ACTU.

Will meet ACTU

Neither of her predecessors, Kevin Andrews or Joe Hockey, ever met with the ACTU and nor did Prime Minister John Howard during his 12 years in the job. Nelson said he also was willing to meet with the ACTU.


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