Tony Abbott on WorkChoices and job protection

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Tony Abbott on WorkChoices and job protection

Tony Abbott says his remarks that workers had lost their traditional 'protections' from being sacked are 'excellent', as 'the chance of a better job is the best protection', and he stands by them - except, he says, he didn't say them.

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Tony Abbott says his remarks that workers had lost their traditional 'protections' from being sacked are 'excellent', as 'the chance of a better job is the best protection', and he stands by them - except, he says, he didn't say them.

In the midst of confusion of what was and wasn't said, Abbott suggested that the incident involved 'a Labor dirty trick'.

The former IR Minister, now Health Minister, had been (amateur) videoed addressing a local electorate function replying to a question on whether WorkChoices had been good for the people of his electorate.

'Protections not what they were'

According to a transcript of the reply, released by Abbott, he said:

'I accept that certain protections - in inverted commas - are not what they were. That whole raft of regulation expressed in awards that sometimes ran into hundreds, even thousands of pages, I accept that that has largely gone. I accept that. I accept that the Industrial Relations Commission doesn't have the same power to reach into the nook and cranny of every business that it used to have. I accept that. 

'But in the end, the best protection for the worker who feels he or she might be under pressure at his job is the chance of another job, the chance of a better job. That is the best protection.

'Not going off to some judge or Industrial Commission that might order your employer, who you don't like and he doesn't like you, to keep you in an unhappy partnership forever.'

Abbott subsequently supported his own remarks on Channel 9, saying they were 'excellent'.

'Terrific statement''

'That was a terrific statement because I was making the absolutely self-evident point that under WorkChoices you've got more work, you've got more jobs, and the best protection for someone who's unhappy in their current job is the chance of a new one,' he said. 'These so-called protections were counterproductive and the fact that we've had two million new jobs under the deregulated coalition system, unemployment at 34-year lows, shows that this new system is much better for workers than the old one.'

Abbott then denied his words were critical of the Coalition's workplace reforms.

However, he subsequently claimed he had been 'verballed' by the Labor Party which had 'cut and pasted' his remarks.

Abbott in fact denied ever conceding workers had lost protections and said the Labor cut-and-past job clearly omitted important parts of what he said.

'Dirty tricks'

'Kevin Rudd should be ashamed at what his dirty tricks department has done,' he said.

It is not clear what Labor is alleged to have done with the video, except apparently edit out the remarks about the size of awards.

The statement of course provided a political opportunity for the ACTU, with President, Sharan Burrow saying they showed the Howard Government does not care about protecting workers jobs and is 'not interested in providing workers with protection from being sacked unfairly'.

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