NSW Govt WorkChoices inquiry aimed at embarrassing Libs

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NSW Govt WorkChoices inquiry aimed at embarrassing Libs

In a bid to embarrass the State Liberal Party, the NSW Government has announced an inquiry into the Federal Government’s new WorkChoices laws.

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In a bid to embarrass the State Liberal Party, the NSW Government has announced an inquiry into the Federal Government’s new WorkChoices laws.

Premier Morris Iemma announced the inquiry today, which he said would be conducted by the Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues.

The Committee, as Iemma pointed out, is ‘made up of MPs from across the political spectrum’.

Labor will be hoping that one of the outcomes of the inquiry is that the Liberals on the Committee will be ambushed into supporting, or being seen to support, the deeply unpopular WorkChoices IR changes, which have struck savage blows at job security.

Liberals' position

The NSW Liberal’s original position under former leader John Brogden was that if elected to office they would hand over the State’s IR powers to the Commonwealth, thus taking virtually every worker in the State under the WorkChoices umbrella.

However when Iemma amended State IR laws last month to protect the State’s public servants from WorkChoices, new leader Peter Debnam buckled and declared that if he was elected Premier in March next year he would hand over the private sector workforce to WorkChoices, but not the public sector.

This position is untenable, but at least takes some of the heat out of the anger of the 180,000 public servants in the State (many of whom Debnam wants to sack if elected to power).

It is difficult to imagine how the State Liberals could participate in an attack on WorkChoices via the Committee inquiry at the same time as they are committed to handing NSW workers over to the new system.

One way of avoiding this could be for the Liberals to refuse to sit on the Committee, branding it a ‘political stunt’. However this would give a free hand to the Labor Members on the Committee to attack WorkChoices without restraint and leave the Liberals open to charges of political cowardice.

Iemma said he expected that ‘Federal public servants including the Fair Pay Commissioner would give evidence to the inquiry”. The chances of that happening are zero.

Scope of inquiry

Meanwhile the Committee has been asked to examine WorkChoices impact on:

  • Families,
  • Young workers,
  • Women,
  • Rural workers,
  • Injured workers,
  • Employees on low wages,
  • Compliance costs and red tape for business,
  • Work and Family balance,
  • Gender equity.

Plenty of opportunities to resonate with community concerns in that lot.

And, in any case, the Federal Government will completely ignore whatever results the Committee comes up with.

But it should make a useful distraction from public transport, roads, schools, tunnels, hospitals, air pollution, desalination plants.

The Committee is expected to report ‘later this year’.

Related

NSW IR laws back-dated to thwart WorkChoices

 

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