Worse to come on IR if Govt re-elected: Gillard

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Worse to come on IR if Govt re-elected: Gillard

If the Federal Government is re-elected its next step in industrial relations changes will be to abolish awards and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC), Opposition Deputy Leader Julia Gillard, said today.

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If the Federal Government is re-elected its next step in industrial relations changes will be to abolish awards and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC), Opposition Deputy Leader Julia Gillard, said today.

Responding to Prime Minister John Howard's admission on the 7.30 Report last night that WorkChoices had 'unnerved' people, Gillard said if the Government were re-elected it had 'worse in store'.

'We know that [Finance Minister] Senator Nick Minchin, one of the most senior members of the Howard Government, has said when he thought that he was off-the-record that they've got more to do in industrial relations,' she said.

(Last month Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd quoted Minchin as telling hard-line IR organisation the H R Nicholls Society: ' … There's much more to do … and I pray that we remain in Government and effect further change and I do ask for your forgiveness … that change has not been as rapid as you would've liked. This is evolution and there is a long way to go, awards, the IR Commission, all the rest of it.')

Scrap awards and AIRC

'[Minchin] was alluding to the complete scrapping of awards and the complete scrapping of the Industrial Relations Commission,' Gillard said. 'What could be worse than WorkChoices is for them to take the next step.

'They have created Australian Workplace Agreements to strip away award conditions. The next step is just to get rid of awards. They have neutered the AIRC, the industrial umpire. The next step is to simply to get rid of that umpire.'

Gillard said that in saying WorkChoices had unnerved people and made them uneasy Howard had shown 'how much he has lost touch with the way Australians think and feel'.

Basic conditions ripped away

'Australians aren't "uneasy", they aren't "unnerved", they are opposed to these laws because too many of them have had basic conditions ripped away,' she said. 'Too many of them have lost penalty rates and overtime because of Howard's extreme laws. Too many of them have seen good, hard working Australians dismissed with no reason given and no remedy because of Howard's extreme laws.

'At the most senior levels of Government the attitude has been made clear. They support further industrial relations reforms, they want even harder versions of these laws. So if [the Government] is re-elected then it won't be WorkChoices, it will be something even worse for Australian working families.'

Gillard dismissed Government claims that Labor is 'dominated by unions when about 75% of Labor candidates in Labor held seats are either union officials or ex-Labor staffers'.

Desperate

'The fact that the Liberal Party has been scouring its way through the CVs of candidates to try and spin stories about people's backgrounds, shows just how desperate they are,' she said. 'Labor of course is designing its policies in the national interest. Look at industrial relations - our policy is fair and balanced.

'We didn't got to any one side of the debate and give them what they wanted, we struck a balance in the middle.'

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