'No IR policy conference debate'; 'Combet welcome' : Rudd


'No IR policy conference debate'; 'Combet welcome' : Rudd

Federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd has stated that the ALP IR policy will not be up for debate at upcoming ALP conference.


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Federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd has stated that the ALP IR policy will not be up for debate at upcoming ALP conference. He has also made it clear that he would welcome Greg Combet on the ALP team.

No IR policy for debate at ALP conference, says Rudd

Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, has made it clear he will not be putting the details of his industrial relations policies up for debate at the ALP National Conference later this month.

Left unions were expecting to vigorously oppose any softening in Labor's approach to such issues as AWAs and unfair dismissals at the conference, to be held from 27-29 April, at the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre.

However when it was put to Rudd yesterday on ABC radio that the unions 'want the details at the Conference, they want to argue about the detail and get some agreement', he replied: 'Well people from the unions can say what they like.'

'I'll determine the timing of that as I judge it to be appropriate in terms of the months we have available between now and when [Prime Minister John] Howard calls the next election,' Rudd said.

Spell out principles

'What I'll spell out between now and the next election is what our principle opposition is to Howard's unfair industrial relations laws and I'll spell out the principles which will underpin an alternative industrial relations system, on the timing of that, we've yet to settle that.'

One reason for Rudd not taking the IR policy to the National Conference is that it is simply not ready yet. Labor is still negotiation with small business its position on unfair dismissals and will be having talks with employer organisations on AWAs.

Opposition small business spokesman, Dr Craig Emerson, said yesterday that one option Labor was considering was to extend the six months employee 'probation' to 12 months for small business - as a kind of de facto unfair dismissal regime that would give employers more time to weed out non-performing employees.

On AWAs, the employer group NSW Business Chamber has put a proposition to Labor that it increase protection in AWAs only for employees on or below the average weekly wage — leaving high paid miners and others on existing AWAs.

Buckets of detail

Rudd told the ABC that when Labor goes to the next election it will 'have a bucket load more detail in terms of what we stand for on alternative industrial relations system than Howard ever took to the Australian people in the last election'.

'He simply got the election, won the Senate and then sprung it on the Australian people that he was going to introduce an Americanisation of the system. You're going to have detail in terms of our alternative system at the next election — on the timing of it, we haven't settled that yet.'

However he reiterated Labor would 'get rid of the WorkChoices legislation and we'll get rid of AWAs'.

Precisely what 'get rid of' means, and how much will go, is something that ALP National Conference is unlikely to find out at Darling Harbour in three weeks time.


'Aim changes at lower paid AWAs', business tells Labor

Labor should set up 'harmonised' national IR system: Combet

Rudd wants Combet on the ALP team

Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, says he would welcome ACTU Secretary, Greg Combet, in his Federal Parliamentary team.

'I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think Greg Combet is a fantastic bloke,' Rudd told ABC radio. 'He would be a huge addition to our Parliament as of when he chose to go to Canberra.

'But what he said to me so far, is that he wants to see this industrial relations campaign through on behalf of the ACTU, to help get the unions' message out to working families across the country.

Role in Hardie asbestos issue

'I respect that, but I've always said that I think he's a fantastic bloke. Ask people out there who've been affected by James Hardie, what they think of Greg Combet's role in the scheme of things.

'He's been a huge asset to working people across the country and people should reflect on the contribution through that appalling scandal involving James Hardie.'


Combet warned to finish ACTU job before move to politics



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