Rudd softens IR rhetoric, but hard-line policy remains

News

Rudd softens IR rhetoric, but hard-line policy remains

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has softened Labor's rhetoric on getting rid of AWAs and making other changes to WorkChoices, but the party is insisting it is still determined to bring 'fairness and flexibility' back into the IR system.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has softened Labor's rhetoric on getting rid of AWAs and making other changes to WorkChoices, but the party is insisting it is still determined to bring 'fairness and flexibility' back into the IR system.

On Sydney commercial radio yesterday Rudd was asked: 'Will you follow through on [former Opposition Leader Kim] Beazley's promise to rip up the IR laws, the workplace laws?'

The interview continued:

'RUDD: We support Labor's existing policy on these industrial relations laws — which is we can't support Mr Howard's AWAs.

QUESTION: Will you rip them up? That's what Mr Beazley was saying. Is that still your policy — to rip the IR laws?

RUDD: Rip up means get rid of and the answer is yes. Of course, we don't think the balance is right between fairness and flexibility.

QUESTION: Kim [Beazley] said you'd rip it up on the Parliament steps on the first day in office. Will you do that?

RUDD: That may have been Kim's form of making a point. All I'm saying is that we're not going to support these laws in office. They don't get the balance between fairness and flexibility for working families.

QUESTION: All right. So, how would you change them?

RUDD: Well, one of the things we've got to look at carefully and in detail is how do we best make sure that basic conditions, when it comes to overtime, when it comes to the things that we've taken for granted for years and years and years, are properly entrenched. Right now so many of those basic conditions have been ripped out and left to the individual agreement between the employer and the employee, including very young people going into the workforce for the first time. We think those things need to be protected. We also believe we need an effective umpire to look after these conditions as well. So, getting the balance right, which is important.

QUESTION: So, will you get it back to delivering more power to the hands of the arbitration system?

RUDD: We believe we need an independent umpire. We're now having discussions right across the country, right across the economy, with how that is best done. We will be taking the detail of that to the people before we get to the next election.'

This response has subsequently been interpreted in the media as Rudd 'softening' Labor's IR position, but IR spokeswoman and Deputy Leader Julia Gillard said this interpretation was 'silly'.

Gillard told the Nine Network the laws would go regardless of the wording, and she denied Rudd had softened the party's workplace policy.

'We're going to get rid of these laws after the next election, so the current law will go, we will repeal it, and we will replace it with a new set of laws which basically have more balance for Australian workplaces,' she said.

'Whether its rip or rid or replace or repeal or any other word you want to use, we're going to get rid of these laws after the next election, so the current law will go. We'll replace it with a new set of laws which basically have more balance for Australian workplaces.'

'Still hard-line' says Howard

Prime Minister John Howard also does not think Labor's stance on IR has softened.

'The hard-line, pro-union Labor policy remains,' he said. 'Mr Rudd has been pulled into line by his left-wing deputy.'

Howard said Rudd's attempt to soft pedal his industrial relations policy had come unstuck.

'He's been trying to fake it,' he said. 'He's been pretending to the business community that it's softer and kinder and gentler than it really is. But Julia Gillard said “no, we're ripping it up, we're putting a million AWAs on the line and we're going to bring back the nightmare of unfair dismissal laws for small business”.'

Related

Rudd rejects call to 'junk' IR policies

Let's not get rid of the IR 'fair go', says Rudd

  

 

Post details