Day 3: Oh My God, They Killed WorkChoices!

“It’s worth it just for the cartoon of her nose,” the man in my local newsagency told me as I purchased the Financial Review yesterday. Like all the newspapers, the Fin had a special election supplement. Its frontpage cartoon by the incomparable David Rowe also contained a jug-eared Tony Abbott but the retailer seemed more agitated by Julia Gillard.

It was a small, perhaps meaningless, moment but it affirmed for me that Gillard is especially crucial to this election. Everyone is talking about her. [Read more…]


Tony Abbott Says Gillard Cannot Be Trusted

The Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, has responded to Julia Gillard’s announcement of an August 21 election by saying she cannot be trusted.

Speaking in Brisbane, Abbott said that the Australian people can trust Gillard as much as Kevin Rudd could trust her.

Abbott said a government led by him would be different from previous coalition governments. He said it would be liberal, conservative, “and most of all it will be mine”.

Journalists peppered Abbott with questions about WorkChoices, following an earlier speech by Abbott in which he said WorkChoices had been “cremated”.

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“Partially Treated Sewage Sandwich” From Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop, Deputy Leader of the Liberal PartyThe Federal Opposition’s Julie Bishop has given an extraordinary press conference in which she attempted to justify the coalition’s decision not to to oppose the government’s legislation abolishing WorkChoices.

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As the Sydney Morning Herald’s Annabel Crabb put it on February 20:

The Opposition’s Julie Bishop was on something quite different yesterday. Some sort of calmative, perhaps.

Ms Bishop has been vocal for months on the need to fight to the death for Australian Workplace Agreements.

And yesterday, for 30 minutes in the Senate courtyard, before a vast throng of fascinated reporters, with a fixed smile on her face, she consumed what for the benefit of family readers we will call a partially treated sewage sandwich. She was cool, charming and professional. She at no point lost her cool. And for much of the time, she made no sense whatsoever.

This is unsurprising, given that Ms Bishop was trying to explain how agreeing to abolish the agreements was pretty much the same as insisting on keeping them, if you thought about it.


Costello To Quit Politics; Will Not Seek Or Accept Liberal Leadership

The Treasurer in the defeated coalition government, Peter Costello, has announced that he “will not seek and will not accept” the leadership or deputy leadership of the Liberal Party.

Speaking at a press conference in Melbourne, Costello said: “I will continue to serve my constituents and in serving my constituents I hope that I will have a role to play perhaps mentoring some of the newer MPs.” Significantly, he did not commit to serving the full three years of the term he was elected to yesterday.

Costello said he “will be looking to build a career post-politics in the commercial world”.

Costello has been deputy leader of the Liberal Party since May 23, 1994. He was been Treasurer since the Howard government was elected in 1996. His decision to vacate the field will likely lead to a contest between outgoing ministers such as Malcolm Turnbull, Brendan Nelson, Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Julie Bishop. [Read more…]


IR Changes to Improve Work-Family Balance: Howard’s New Year Message

Economic reform “must, and will, continue in 2006″, according to the Prime Minister, John Howard, in his New Year’s Message.

HowardHoward said that “stable and happy family life is crucial to Australia’s future”. He said that “more flexibility under the new workplace arrangements will enable Australians an even greater capacity to balance work and family life”.

In a further sign of his determination to remain Prime Minister through to the next election, Howard reiterated his government’s record in economic management, claiming that the “reform process was maintained to the full in 2005″. [Read more…]


Costello Denies Misleading Parliament; Treasury Releases Executive Minute On IR

The Treasurer, Peter Costello, has denied that he misled Parliament over Treasury advice on the industrial relations changes.

Peter CostelloThe Treasury Executive Minute of October 6, 2005 was revealed by The Australian newspaper this morning. It appears to confirm arguments that lower-paid workers will be negatively impacted by the WorkChoices laws. It also appears to conflict with statements Costello made to Parliament in early November.

The Treasury minute was obtained under the Freedom of Information law. [Read more…]


Labor’s Twelve Days Of Christmas

Labor MPs sang an alternative version of The Twelve Days of Christmas outside Parliament House this morning.

Peter Garrett, Alan Griffin, Catherine King, Julie Owens and Anna Burke secured a spot on tonight’s television with their new lyrics attacking the Howard government’s industrial relations policy.

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On the twelfth day of Christmas my PM gave to me:

the end of certainty,
much longer hours,
jail if I protest,
less time for family,
lots of lost conditions,
many bosses sacking,
no more penalties,

no rights at all.

No redundancy,
lower pay,
cuts to overtime
and a chance to trade away leave.


Andrews Finally Presents Workplace Relations Bill To Parliament

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, presented the Federal Government’s long-awaited ‘WorkChoices’ Legislation to the House of Representatives this morning.

Amid uproar in the House, Andrews claimed that the legislation accommodates “the greater demand for choice and flexibility in our workplaces”.

This is the text of the Second Reading Speech delivered to the House of Representatives by the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews.

Kevin AndrewsToday I am introducing the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill – a bill that moves Australia towards a flexible, simple and fair system of workplace laws.

Australians have come a long way by improving the way they work.  Because of this, we now have one of the strongest economies in the world.  We have created over 1.7 million new jobs.  Australia’s unemployment rate has been markedly reduced, reaching a 30 year low and interest rates are at historically low levels.

[Read more…]


Workplace Changes Not Family Friendly: Beazley

Kim BeazleyThe Federal Government’s proposed changes to industrial relations laws are not about choice but about cutting wages and reducing conditions, according to the Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley.

Addressing a press conference in Canberra, Beazley derided the notion of employees negotiating with employers: “You know that an 18 year old with a few skills, sitting down with the boss, is not going to negotiate with the boss on an equal basis.”

The Labor leader also attacked the government’s use of public money to promote its proposals. “If John Howard was confident in this legislation he would not be spending $100 million worth of taxpayers’ funds – effectively an open-ended cheque – in order to mislead absolutely everybody.” [Read more…]


WorkChoices: Howard Announces Details Of Industrial Relations Changes

Following a lockup briefing for industry representatives in Canberra this morning, the details of the government’s industrial relations changes were announced.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, announced the changes, nicknamed “Workchoices”, at a press conference.

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This is the text of a media release from the Prime Minister, John Howard.

WORKCHOICES – A NEW WORKPLACE RELATIONS SYSTEM

In May of this year I announced in Parliament the framework of the Government’s proposals to reform Australia’s workplace relations system. Today the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and I are delighted to release ‘WorkChoices – A New Workplace Relations System’ which explains, in detail, how the new workplace relations system will work. [Read more…]