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IR Bill: links update #2

Lawyers say new IR laws a 'dog's breakfast'
AM - Friday, 4 November , 2005  08:00:00,, Reporter: Alison Caldwell
PETER CAVE: Some industrial relations lawyers and economists are not being kind about Australia's new industrial relations legislation.
They've called it a dog's breakfast, unintelligible, confusing and an example of half-hearted legislation drafted in extreme haste.
But what's more concerning for the Howard Government is that the National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce is already questioning of one aspect of that legislation.
ALISON CALDWELL: For businesses, implementing the new IR laws will make the GST look like a walk in the park, according to law Professor Andrew Stewart, an industrial relations expert at Flinders University.
ANDREW STEWART: If you're a small or a medium sized business, and you're affected by these changes, and that particularly applies to businesses who are currently covered by state awards, you are going to have a lot of difficulty making sense of what this means for you.
You're probably going to need a lot of expensive legal advice, just to understand the immediate impact, let alone what you might have to do or want to do in the future - simply unintelligible. - http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2005/s1497504.htm

Unions urge workers to oppose IR laws
ABC, Friday, 4 November 2005.
Unions are raising serious concerns about Australia's new industrial relations (IR) laws.
United Services Union Riverina organiser Ian Fayle says almost everyone faces the erosion of entitlements and job security as a result of the legislation.
Unions will hold a national day of action later this month to protest against the new laws, which have been introduced to Parliament this week. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/items/200511/1497706.htm?riverina

Heated IR debate sees more MPs ejected
ABC Online, 3 Nov 2005
Seven Opposition MPs and one Government MP were thrown out after heated debate over the changes.
During Question Time, Labor's Stephen Smith condemned plans that would exempt large employers from unfair dismissal laws if they sack staff for "operational reasons". ... Today's proceedings were more heated than yesterday, when 11 Opposition MPs were ordered to leave. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1497211.htm

Andrews dismisses IR court challenge plans
ABC Online, 3 Nov 2005

The Federal Government has dismissed talk of a High Court challenge against its plans to create a national industrial relations (IR) system. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1497072.htm

AWA fears prompt public service lobbying
ABC Online, 3 Nov 2005
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says it is concerned the Federal Government will make individual workplace agreements (AWA) a condition of employment in the public service. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1497171.htm

Labor focuses on dismissal powers in IR debate ABC Online, 3 Nov 2005
The Federal Opposition has continued its attack on the Government's industrial relations changes in Parliament, focusing on broader than expected powers for employers to dismiss workers. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1496903.htm

Joyce raises concerns over IR legislation
ABC Online, November 4, 2005
Key Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce has cast fresh doubt over whether he will support the Federal Government's industrial relations (IR) legislation. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1497409.htm

IR changes spark fiery debate
Lateline,  03/11/2005, Reporter: Sally Sara
TONY JONES: There's been more uproar in Federal Parliament as the fight over the new industrial relations legislation intensifies. The Prime Minister again defended the laws during a fiery Question Time while union leaders said they would defy the legislation even if it meant going to jail. NSW has announced it will join a High Court challenge to overturn the workplace changes. Sally Sara reports from Canberra.
SALLY SARA: It was a second day of uproar. Kim Beazley called on the Prime Minister to show how the legislation would deliver fairness to workers.
KIM BEAZLEY, OPPOSITION LEADER: Prime Minister, on which page of this bill is it contained?
SALLY SARA: The Prime Minister answered this way -
JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: Mr Speaker, I agree that fairness in the workplace does start with the chance of a job. - http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2005/s1497399.htm

Workers to rally against IR laws
The Australian, November 04, 2005
WORKERS in Melbourne will rally against the Government's proposed workplace changes today as the states gear up to take their fight to the courts. - http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17136174%255E1702,00.html

IR laws head to High Court
The Courier Mail, 03nov05 By Denis Peters and Belinda Tasker
THE biggest shake-up of Australia's industrial relations laws in decades will be fought out in court with two states vowing to challenge the Federal Government's power grab. - http://www.thecouriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,17131764%255E1702,00.html

Unionists 'face jail under AWA's'
The Australian, November 04, 2005

THE past practice of unions highlighting unfair Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) will now result in a jail sentence, the union movement says.
Section 83BS of the Federal Government's contentious new Work Choices Bill states that it is an offence, punishable by six months' jail, if a person discloses information relating to an AWA – the government's favoured individual contact. - http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17136294%255E1702,00.html

Coal miners consider industrial action against IR laws
ABC Online, November 4, 2005
The coal miners union will not rule out industrial action against the the Federal Government's proposed Industrial Relations legislation if it is passed through parliament. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1496865.htm

NSW to challenge IR laws in High Court
Channel Seven, Date: 03/11/05
NSW will join Queensland in challenging the federal government's new industrial relations laws in the High Court. - http://seven.com.au/news/topstories/118117

Andrews puts faith in IR legal advice
ABC Online, November 4, 2005
Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews says the new industrial relations (IR) laws will withstand a challenge in the courts. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1496480.htm

The nation and Coalition may regret this rush
The Age, November 3, 2005
HOW long would the average person take to read a 687-page work? When the work in question is the WorkChoices Bill introduced in Federal Parliament yesterday, along with a 565-page explanatory memorandum, the need for adequate time to absorb and debate this complex legislative package should be unarguable. Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews rightly spoke of a "historic day" because of the scale of industrial relations changes, but was greeted with uproar because of the Government's determination to rush the legislation through Parliament. Yet Opposition Leader Kim Beazley was keen to expedite an anti-terrorism amendment, citing intelligence on a specific threat. While he did call for proper scrutiny of the rest of the anti-terrorism legislation, he has given the yet-to-be-seen bill his support in spite of a lack of public consultation that is simply unhealthy for a democracy. - http://www.theage.com.au/news/editorial/the-nation-and-coalition-may-regret-this-rush/2005/11/02/1130823280537.html

Blog Views

IR changes will not increase jobs!
Billy Blog (Bill Mitchell) 18 Oct 2005
...the minister was responding to the accusations from the Salvation Army that the legislation would be unethical. The Minister [Andrews] said in part when he was challenged about this:

the most fundamental ethic is to ensure everyone who wants a job can get one. Unemployment is an evil. It's especially evil when it takes away the hopes and dreams and aspirations of young people and, as the Salvation Army themselves say, giving the person an opportunity to get a job is really the first step in being able to be part of the life of this community.


(The Centre of Full Employment and Equity (known as CofFEE) is an official research centre at the University of Newcastle and seeks to promote research aimed at restoring full employment and achieving an economy that delivers equitable outcomes for all. For more please go to the What is CofFEE page? - with thanks to poster  David P.)


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re: IR Bill: links update #2

It was really interesting last night to see Kevin Andrews's preformance on Lateline with Tony Jones. Andrews was directly asked twice whether the new laws are fairer and simpler. He did not say "yes" to this question either time it was asked.

If the Government can spend $55 million telling us that these laws will be fairer and simpler before the Bill goes to parliament, surely the Minister responsible can say that of the Bill now! If not, the gouging of public money to fund the advertising campaign was a fraud.

Margo: Hi Guy. The Govt pulped thousands of their booklets to citizens to add "fairer" to "simpler", remember? Here's the exchange last night - I too thought it was telling (Howard also avoided several Labor questions in Parliament on where the word 'fair' appeared as a criteria for setting minimum wages in the legislation, apart from the name of the "Fair Pay Commission', of course):

TONY JONES: Alright, let's move on. The legislation is meant to make working easier and fairer, is that the case?

KEVIN ANDREWS: The legislation is about trying to ensure that we have a strong economy. If we have a strong economy, then there will be more jobs, you've got a better prospect that Australians are going to see an increase in their wages.

TONY JONES: OK, but we keep hearing the word 'easier' and we keep hearing the word 'fairer', that's a fairly legitimate way of describing what you're attempting to do, isn't it?

KEVIN ANDREWS: We're attempting to say, as many others in the past, even Bill Keelty back in the early 1990s, who said the only way we're going to ensure future productivity and, therefore, future economic growth is by people making agreements and coming to arrangements about their workplace arrangements at the workplace level.

re: IR Bill: links update #2

The Business Council of Australia has made some very interesting comments about the track record of the Howard Government. It is a frightening story of government tentacles reaching out and strangling us all. See here:

Regulation is truly Australia's growth industry. Our parliaments have become regulation factories, producing more laws and red tape than at any time in our history. Regulation is now growing at 10 per cent a year - three times the economic growth rate. More pages of legislation have passed the Commonwealth Parliament in the 14 years between 1990 and 2004 than in the preceding 90 years. The federal and state parliaments added 33,000 pages of new law to the statute and rule books in 2003. OECD estimates say the Australian small business sector is groaning under compliance costs of more than $17 billion a year. Manufacturers are shouldering some $680 million of costs every year just to meet regulatory compliance obligations. Overseas experience suggests that a figure of 8 per cent of Australia's GDP soaked up by red tape and compliance costs is not an unreasonable estimate.

If Howard was really serious about making Australian business more competitive it would spend its time and money, cutting red tape, saving Australian business billions of dollars a year. Instead, it chooses to attack the lowest paid and weakest in our community.

Our country is run by a politician who has no vision for Australia and believes his job is to screw the individual so big business can make even more profit. We are wasting enormous amounts of money and time and will gain nothing.

Laws and regulations are the targets that we should be cutting not wages. We are over governed by fools; today’s politicians have no ideas for the kind of society we should be trying to develop. Their eyes are always on the rear vision mirror, never looking at the road ahead.

It is only a matter of time before we smash into one of the road blocks in front of us. Climate change, Peak Oil, Bird Flu, Mass migration, Chinese/Indian political and economic growth, US economic failure, aging population, these are some of the real opportunities and threats we face.

If we looked out 10 to 15 years we would see that we cannot afford to concentrate our political efforts on such follies as turning the IR clock back 100 years, or the hopeless thought that you can prevent terrorism by acts of parliament.

The proposed IR laws are truly a "Dog's breakfast" and it is a shame on our parliment, that we are wasting so much time and effort on such shabby legislation.

re: IR Bill: links update #2

Kevin Andrews says: "making agreements and coming to arrangements about their workplace arrangements".

Well yes, isn't that what we already do and have been for a hundred years? This guy presents this legislation as though it's revolutionary. It's voodoo economics at its worst and no different than what the USA has been pursuing under the Republicans for the last four years. But the US can carry a large underclass of working poor, as odious and unfair as that is. With our tiny population it will be a disaster. These guys are straight out of the trees when it comes to preparing Australia for the real problems we face under globalisation. The best they can come up with is a way to drive down wages. They're economic vandals who blindly believe their puritan work ethic ideology is the answer.

re: IR Bill: links update #2

From the office of Senator Steve Fielding

Media release
SF/20. Wednesday November 9, 2005

Federal Government bans states from allowing people to get paid on public holidays

Not only is the Federal Government removing guarantees that all workers will be paid on public holidays, it is banning the states from allowing people to get paid for them.

Under the government's changes, State and Territory Governments will be able to introduce laws to declare public holidays, but not ensure people get paid for taking them.

What is the point of allowing State and Territory Governments to nominate public holidays if workers do not get paid for them? So much for the Prime Minister insisting public holidays such as Anzac Day and Melbourne Cup Day are "sacrosanct".

Under the workplace legislation, section 7C(3)(f) allows State and Territory Governments to legislate for "the observance of a public holiday, except the rate of payment of an employee for the public holiday."

The Federal Government has a choice. Either it ensures that people get paid for public holidays or it lets the states do so.

But the Federal Government should not remove guarantees that all workers will be paid for public holidays and then stop the states from doing it.

Australians did not elect the Howard Government so they would be forced to bargain for paid public holidays which they already enjoy. These changes undermine family life and I will be moving amendments to ensure workers are not docked pay because they do not work on public holidays.

re: IR Bill: links update #2

Given the soothing Business Council of Australia commercials and the government's commercials – all waxing lyrical about the new world of employer/employee co-operation – it's absolutely intriguing that none of the main "talking heads" (Kevin Andrews, Peter Hendy and the Prime Minister) have addressed an issue at the heart of the difficulties business faces. Workcover.

Not one of these crusaders for the right of business to go about trading as unfettered as possible have mentioned the entirely cumbersome, punitive and incompetent worker's compensation regimes that business must contend with. As many different schemes as there are States and Territories. And if that isn't enough, schemes which undergo more make-overs than society divas in Melbourne prior to "Cup week."

If the object here was to clear away those infernal layers of regulation so pinning business down, then I'd have thought the various Workcovers were the ideal Commonwealth "taken over" target. You know, remove the layers of costly insurance complexity; one system administered by a single entity. Possibly a "Real Compo Commission": the one stop shop that can assess, manage the return to work and – if the injury is deemed "for real" – put you into the hands of Centrelink and straight onto "Welfare to Work." All with employers unencumbered and going about their business.

Much easier to sideline the union movement I suspect. Imagine the vested business interests in the various insurance regimes. Hmmm…

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