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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.

  • Listen to the song:

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

The 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.

Kim BeazleyAddressing 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…]

‘My Guarantee Is My Record’: Howard

Prime Minister John Howard has described his proposed workplace relations changes as “big” but “fair”, whilst refusing to guarantee that workers won’t be worse off.

“My guarantee is my record,” the Prime Minister said.

Addressing a press conference in Canberra with the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, Howard said: “I can look the workforce of Australia in the eye tonight and say look at what has happened under my Prime Ministership over the last nine and half years. I can tell them that this reform will further strengthen the Australian economy and I can tell them directly that the foundation of more jobs and higher wages in the future is a stronger economy. All the regulations in the world can’t generate a strong economy out of thin air. And the measure of the worth of an industrial relations system is its contribution to the economic strength of the nation. And that is why I believe this system will deliver more jobs and higher wages.” [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. [Read more…]

Howard Pledges Industrial Relations Reform, Derides “Cut And Run” Policies

Legislation to re-introduce the redundancy payment exemption for small business has been promised by the Prime Minister, in an address to the State Council of the Victorian Liberal Party.

HowardReminding his audience that winning a fourth term will be “a very big fight”, Howard said “there is no threat contained in alternative Labor Government at a federal level which is more lethal than what it would represent in terms of industrial relations changes. The abolition of Australian workplace agreements, the almost unlimited right of entry for unions whether they’re wanted or not, the removal of the secondary boycott protection under the Trade Practices Act which is so important for small business.”

On Iraq, Howard said: “It is not in the best interests of our country to cut and run from Iraq. It is in the best interests of our country and in the best traditions of our country to finish the job and to see it through until the circumstances have arisen where out of proper regard for the security of Iraq and proper regard for the interests of our allies and proper regard for sending a united, unambiguous message to terrorists that we will not have our policy dictated by threats of violence and the actuality of violence in other countries. [Read more…]

Tony Abbott: A Bad Boss Is Better Than No Boss

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Tony Abbott, says that a bad boss is better than no boss.

“At least he’s employing someone,” Abbott said.

Abbott also compared bad bosses to bad fathers and bad husbands.

He later “clarified” his comments. [Read more…]

Unfair Dismissal Laws A Blot On The Escutcheon Of Small Business: Howard

In an address to the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia in Canberra last night, the Prime Minister, John Howard, returned to the issue of the unfair dismissal laws, describing them as “a blot on the escutcheon of small business”.

HowardHe urged small business to lobby other parties in the Senate and promised that the government would resubmit the laws if they are rejected by the upper house.

Howard’s comments indicate that the government is preparing the ground for a double dissolution election trigger over the coming year.

In his speech, Howard said: “I want to assure all of you that we will not weaken or tire in our efforts to secure the passage through the Senate of further reforms of the unfair dismissal laws. They remain to me one of the great blots on the escutcheon of small business. I hold strongly to the belief that if we could get rid of the restrictions we’re trying to get rid of we would see more jobs generated in the small business community. There is no reason, according to our current advice and according to current economic indicators, there is no reason why unemployment in Australia can’t fall to a figure approaching six per cent by the end of this year. [Read more…]

High Court Upholds Industrial Relations Legislation

The High Court today rejected a challenge from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to the Federal government’s simplification of industrial awards in the Workplace Relations Act.

High Court CrestThe decision was supported by 4 judges (Gleeson, Hayne, Gummow and Callinan) and opposed by 3 (Kirby, McHugh and Gaudron).

Except for Gummow, the majority judges were appointed by the Howard government. The minority judges were all appointed by the Hawke or Keating governments. [Read more…]

Beazley Announces ALP Industrial Relations Policy

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley has come under sustained attack in Federal Parliament following the announcement of the ALP’s Industrial Relations policy this week.

Beazley committed a Labor government to abolishing the system of Australian Workplace Agreements introduced by Industrial Relations Minister Peter Reith.

Whilst only about 90,000 Australians are parties to individual workplace agreements, otherwise known as individual contracts, they are an important symbolic feature of the coalition’s approach to industrial affairs. [Read more…]