WorkChoice laws get a welcome – and abuse

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WorkChoice laws get a welcome – and abuse

Australia’s new IR laws, which passed through the Senate on Friday, have been welcomed by business groups, but a new Federal Labor Government would tear them up, and they are also opposed by the Democrats, Greens and the union movement.

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Australia’s new IR laws, which passed through the Senate on Friday, have been welcomed by business groups, but a new Federal Labor Government would tear them up, and they are also opposed by the Democrats, Greens and the union movement.

 

Government pleased

Prime Minister John Howard said the WorkChoices legislation, which will pass through the House of Representatives this week, is ‘about Australia’s economic future’. 

 

‘This is about strengthening the Australian economy in the years ahead,’ he said.  

 

‘The only guarantee that can ever be given of higher real wages and lower unemployment is a strong, productive, growing economy and this legislation will contribute to that.’

 

Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nations, Mark Vaile, said if regional Australia is to continue to grow and prosper ‘a simpler, fairer national workplace relations system is the only way to achieve that goal’.

 

‘WorkChoices will make regional Australia more globally competitive and in turn create a better outcome for regional employers and employees across the country,’ he said.

 

AiG

Heather Ridout, CEO of Australian Industry Group, said the reforms are ‘in sync’ with the needs of a modern economy and the structure of the emerging, more diverse workforce.

 

‘If the changes are to drive productivity and participation they need to be complemented with a heightened focus in a number of areas, including taxation, skills development, infrastructure, innovation and regulation,’ she said.

 

ACCI

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said the reforms should kickstart another round of productivity growth.

 

‘We are confident this will mean lower [un]employment and stronger real wage growth than would otherwise have been the case,’ said Peter Hendy, ACCI Chief Executive.

 

‘The changes in WorkChoices are long overdue and will help overcome the serious flaws and bad regulation that have hampered the capacity of Australian businesses to grow, compete and employ.’

 

ABL

Leading business organisation Australian Business Limited (ABL) said a national workplace relations system has long been seen as central to reforming Australia’s workplace relations landscape.

 

‘These laws will improve the competitive position of Australia and the working conditions of Australians,’ said Mark Bethwaite, Chief Executive of ABL.

 

‘They will also improve the prospects of the 1.2 million Australians who are looking for work or seeking to work more hours,’ he said.

 

ALP

However Stephen Smith, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, said the passage of the WorkChoices Bill through the Senate ‘marks the beginning of the erosion of protection for workers’.

 

‘Australians will be worse off and the Australian way of life will be much the poorer as a result of the passage through the Senate today of this extreme and unfair legislation,’ he said.

 

‘There are two simple reasons for this: Nowhere in the nearly 1500 pages of legislation and associated material can you find a guarantee that no individual Australian employee will be worse off as a result of these changes, and nowhere in the legislation can you find fairness.

‘The absence of both of these can only mean one certain outcome: that working Australian families will be worse off, and the Australian way of life will be much the poorer.’

 

Democrats

Australian Democrats workplace relations spokesman, Senator Andrew Murray, said the legislation ‘is historical for all the wrong reasons’.

 

‘We have seen for the first time in the history of Federation a hostile take over of the state system,’ he said.

 

‘We have seen the dismantling of the industrial safety net, and a raft of provisions that will give employers unprecedented bargaining power.

 

‘The changes will not be immediate, which suits the Government’s agenda but, over time, the Bill will lead to the eroding of pay and conditions for millions of Australians.’

 

Greens

The Australian Greens criticised a lack of fairness in the legislation.

 

‘We were concerned that in the rushed drafting of this Bill the government was proposing a body called the "Australian Fair Pay Commission" that did not actually ensure that the process for setting the rate of minimum pay took ‘fairness’ into account,’ Senator Rachel Siewert said. ‘We tried to help them fix this, but they weren’t interested in fairness.’

 

Unions

The ACTU has been bitterly opposed to the legislation from the beginning, and spent millions of dollars on an advertising campaign against it.

 

It has also been savagely attacked by all unions.

Related

Federal IR changes 2005  

 

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