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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

its called media management « Previous | |Next »
November 7, 2005

Suprise suprise. The debate on the IR legislation [The Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005] in the House of Representatives was guillotined at the end of last week. Just like that. As Glenn Milne writes in The Australian:

ARROGANT? Anxious to close down debate and curb dissent? What, this Government? You betcha. We had another example of the creeping hubris that may yet consume the federal Coalition late on Thursday. Labor's chief whip, Roger Price, was informed by the Government the parliamentary debate on its contentious industrial relations reform package was going to be shut down early. No ifs. No buts. No beg your pardons. That's what you can do when you have the numbers in both houses.

Suprisingly Milne is critical of the steamrollering of the legislation through the lower house. But then it was never the house that reviewed legislation with a fine tooth comb. That job was done the Senate. No more.


So why the guillotine? Wouldn't it be good politics to allow a genuine debate and for the government to be seen to be working within the democratic conventions of parliamentary process?

Milne gives a good reason:

The uncertainty generated by that debate can only feed the natural fears of employees about what this dramatic shift in industrial power to the employer means for their job ... The solution, from the Coalition's point of view, appears to be: get the bills through the parliament as quickly as possible, batten down, take the issue off the front pages and hope the continuing good performance of the economy will mask any bad side effects of the changes. Because the Government knows that when growth turns down, and the skills shortage eases, that's when employers will begin to use their new-found power to wind back wages and conditions.

There has been a shift today--an extension of the debate has been granted. I've just heard Carmen Lawrence's biting comments that draw on the historical experience of AWA's in Western Australia under the Court Government in the 1990s to highlight the way it will disadvantage women.

So far most of the speakers on the Government side are more interested in the spin, lines, ideology and empty rhetoric. Have they actually read the bill--apart from Malcolm Turnbull? He does go beyond assertions of freedom and flexibility.

The Parliamentary Library's e-guide is very comprehensive. Worth looking at is the community, business, government responses.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:56 PM | | Comments (0)