Posts Tagged ‘WorkChoices’

Which election were you watching?

Is Brandis commencing a double dissolution suicide mission?

“This is the mandate theory that I don’t particularly subscribe to,” Senator Brandis told ABC Radio in Brisbane.

“I think it’s a weak theory, unless it could be said unequivocally that the election turned on one issue and one issue alone.

“I myself think the overwhelming factor was just a desire for change – you couldn’t say that this election was decided on Work Choices.”

UPDATE: Thumbs up to Steve in the comments at The Poll Bludger, who dug out this Brandis quote from 2005:

Well, I think in the first place, it will mean that the government will be able to deliver on the mandate that it’s received. If you look at the legislation that’s been held up in the Senate in the past, most of that legislation is legislation for which the government has received a mandate, not once, but now at four successive elections, most notably the industrial relations legislation. Now, I’ve lost count, honestly, of the number of times on which that package of bills has been knocked back. Last time I counted, I think it was about 17 times. That has been a manifesto commitment of the government at each one of the last four federal elections, but our Labor opponents, under the Whip from the trade unions, have knocked it back. We’ll be able to pass it and so give effect to the people’s expressed wishes at the election. Can I broaden that point to make a different point? Just because the government has a majority in the Senate, where does the notion come from that that’s un-democratic? I remember in years gone by when Mr Keating and Mr Hawke and before that Mr Whitlam were the Prime Minister, the Labor Party would say, “Well, how undemocratic can this be, that the Senate is holding up legislation which we the Labor Government committed to at elections?” When the boot’s on the other foot, somehow the argument changes.

Yes, somehow the argument does change.

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The people who brought you this:

are now whistling a different tune:

Mr Gailey said despite the concerns during the election campaign about the power of union leaders, he was not worried about the government dominated by newly-elected union identities such as Bill Shorten and Greg Combet.

“We’ve worked successfully with Labor governments in the past and I don’t see any issues in terms of the people who will be part and parcel of of that government and that we won’t be able to work with them,” he said.

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John Howard helps to deliver a campaign message for Labor:

“If we win on Saturday then the reforms that we have brought about will never be reversed by a future federal Labor government,” he said.

“They will become part of the furniture. They will become so embedded in our business and workplace culture that no future Labor government would be able to reverse them.”

Who ever said he was a lying bastard? It turns out he’s just a bastard.

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Failing the test

Around half of the AWAs that have been lodged since the introduction of the fairness test fail to meet its requirements.

Of course, Joe Hockey can keep telling us that this is a sign that the system is working – unfair AWAs are being picked up and rectified. He might even manage to keep a straight face while doing it. But these findings highlight that a lot of employers either (i) don’t understand the requirements or (ii) are trying to circumvent them to the detriment of their employees’ working conditions. And it means that a lot of effort is being wasted in negotiating and evaluating AWAs. This is neither a fair nor efficient system, and it is one that needs to be dismantled.

Of course, Team Howard may have managed to seal its own fate by bringing economic management and industrial relations issues front and centre in the past week. If the final fortnight of the election campaign revives the WorkChoices debate and these are the kind of statistics that are coming out, I can’t see the electorate returning to Honest John. Add to these WorkChoices findings and the interest rate rise the latest warnings about businesses being placed in jeopardy by the current economic conditions, and it is difficult to see how Howard and co. will be able to convince the public at large that they have things under control.

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Public sector managers


The federal Department of Employment and Workplace Relations today faces the prospect of being fined by a court for breaching federal industrial law.

Justice Catherine Branson found the department issued prohibited advice leading to Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members being refused leave on the day of an anti-WorkChoices Rally.

She was critical of public sector managers who were obliged to be impartial.

CPSU secretary Stephen Jones hopes to see the Workplace Relations Department penalised.

“When the employer is the Government and the very agency which is responsible for upholding and managing the Workplace Relations Act that is doubly inappropriate,” he said.

Bloody activist judges, imposing the requirements of the law on Joe Hockey’s department.

UPDATE: It’s a $30,000 fine for the Government, to be paid to the CPSU.

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Now that the mid-year economic review data has been released, Labor has an up-to-date price tag of the taxpayer-funded propaganda campaigns. Julia Gillard has jumped on the WorkChoices advertising figures ($121 million in total; $66 million since the fairness test):

“$4 million a week each week of this financial year to try and convince Australians who know WorkChoices is bad that it’s good for them,” she said.

“Well they’re not going to be convinced and they’ll be thinking to themselves, what difference could that money have made to my local hospital or my local school?”

Naturally, Big Gun Joe has trotted out the standard talking points in response:

“Kevin Rudd and the union bosses who control over 70 per cent of his frontbench have spent millions of dollars on a massive scare campaign designed to confuse and misinform working families,” he said.

“Therefore we make no apologies for properly informing working Australians about the protections that exist under the workplace relations system.”

I thought Kevin Rudd only spent millions of dollars on beach-houses? Joe not only fails to distinguish between unions funding advertising as opposed to Labor funding it, but he also fails to recognise that he has been spending taxpayers’ money to achieve his political ends. Furthermore, it was that “scare campaign” that prompted the Government to introduce the fairness test – because the facts of the original system were so scary that they had to try to make it seem more palatable. Why, the Big Gun himself admitted that the original system was wrong. So, even if we accept for the moment that the fairness test has fixed things, doesn’t the responsibility for the $66 million of follow-up advertising lie with the Government who got the laws wrong in the first place?

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Rudd and Gillard made a start on bringing WorkChoices into the campaign. It’s been overshadowed by the tax cuts, but was a decent start. However, if I may answer one of Kevin Rudd’s questions (perhaps not in the same way JWH would):

“What is to stop Mr Howard in the future from enforcing WorkChoices on nurses, on police, on emergency service personnel such as ambulance workers and fire fighters, what’s to stop Mr Howard from doing it?” he said.

A Senate without a majority.

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Another smart, sensible column from Mr Megalogenis, the theme of which is:

Beware leaders promising jobs.

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Blogocracy has a guest post by the University of Sydney’s Brigid van Wanrooy, one of the authors of the attention-getting Australia@Work report. She also spent some time responding to comments, with Tim posting some responses as well. It’s worth trawling through the four or so pages (so far).

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Tim Dunlop noted a story in The Age that shows Barbara Bennett is doing her bit to save the Government from attack by “former union officials”:

WHILE the Federal Government has attacked academics whose study of WorkChoices it disagrees with, it has also stopped researchers from getting crucial information to study the effects of the industrial relations system. Workplace Authority chief Barbara Bennett has written to two researchers in recent months denying access to samples of people’s individual contracts — Australian Workplace Agreements — citing privacy.

Meanwhile, the GG has launched another assault on the integrity of academia in general, and John Buchanan in particular. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t quite seem to get how research works:

Perhaps more disturbing than the firebrand rhetoric, however, is that Buchanan appeared to have already made up his mind in February 2005 on the key issues that he would be reporting on 30 months later: “We are going to see wages get more and more unequal,” he said. “We are going to see hours become more fragmented and we are going to see more casualisation and contractors.” So why do research?

To test the hypotheses he put forward and see whether the empirical evidence supports them. That’s the difference between Buchanan, who may have personal political views but then conducts research to see whether the evidence supports those views, and the Government, who repeat “WorkChoices is wonderful; working families have never had it so good” like a mantra, while restricting access to any attempts at scrutinising the evidence for their claims and attacking the integrity of those who dare to critically evaluate their argument.

The conclusion of the article is spot on, however:

For me, however, it confirms a point made by Paul Kelly in last week’s Australian Literary Review: “A healthy democracy will see a healthy gulf between its politicians and its intellectuals. But this gulf in Australia is a chasm that demands serious attention.”

Exactly – let’s have a different government, please.

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