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

IR, ALP + corporate backlash « Previous | |Next »
May 2, 2007

It's been building so quickly hasn't it---the negative reaction to the Rudd/Gillard IR policy by the big end of town. The corporate backlash to Labor's new industrial relations policy was to be expected, as was the overheated rhetoric about unions leaders being akin to crime bosses from the Liberal Party's corporate mouth pieces.

Sean Leahy

John Howard's Workchoices legislation is unfair as it basically tilt too far in allowing business to abuse worker's rights (eg., reducing penalty rates, overtime, redundancy pay and holiday pay) so Rudd and Gillard have corrected that excess. But the situation for federal Labor starts to get serious when Alan Carpenter, the WA premier, joins the corporate Greek chorus in criticizing a core ALP policy in an election. Just politics?

Well, Rudd and Gillard have found themselves placed in the position of needing to limit the fallout by making some sort of adjustment.

'Rudd threatens to strangle the booming resources industry' is the message now circulating throughout the media from the Greek chorus. Since this is the wealth creating sector of the economy, Federal Labor needs to deal with the criticisms in order to avoid having them converted into evidence of the ALP's inability to manage the economy. Howard is waiting to pounce after rushing out a a $1.4 billion business support package.

There is room for Rudd and Gillard to move in their 'work in progress'. Firstly, federal Labor's promise to abolish AWA's makes no distinction between AWA's at the top end of the market and AWA's at the bottom end of the market. It is the latter that the ALP should be concerned about ---as these are being used as an instrument to cut wages and working conditions of working families. But that is not the case at the top end of the market. So why not design a "fairer" system of individual employment contracts, rather than abolish AWAs altogether?

Secondly, the proposed one stop shop--Fair Work Australia as a regulatory and advisory body-- wears too many hats. It is policeman, prosecutor and judge. Isn't a seperate judicial authority needed? It is becoming clearer that Fair Work Australia exercising judicial functions could well fall foul of the High Court's strict requirements for judicial independence, and for judges to have judicial tenure as is required by chapter three of the constitution?

Thirdly, it would appear that business groups are particularly critical of the new policy for allowing unions to regain control by automatically opening collective bargaining arrangements if a majority of workers in a workplace want a collective agreement. Have Rudd and Gillard swung too far the other way in sacrificing flexibility for fairness? I guess it's the detail here that is crucial, but having things buried in the detail rather than upfront and open makes people suspicious.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:36 AM | | Comments (4)


Someone has finally come up with an objective analysis of what's gone before (nothing to do with the fact that your position as identical to mine although exponentially more nuanced in detail and coherence).
A pity you are not writing politics for some of the newspapers or on teev, rather than some of the spastics plying their black arts at these places just now.

It is also a bitter, bad and sad day when a scab like Carpenter, following the example of Lennon in 2004 can again jeopardise the chances of millions of people seeking a bit of rest from the tiresome, intrusive authoritarianism of a neo facist state. Though "disguised"( disguise a gross, unsightly obscenity?) under the fig leafs of "efficiency", "growth" and "reform"; the three ugly sisters of neoliberalism, this Gitmo-isation of wider society continues apace. As for "efficiency" sacrificed for "fairness", spare me such guff!

As for for Carpenter, the Judas: if I could lay hands on him I'd wring his treacherous neck!

Gillard is taking the heat --playing bad cop---over the release of federal Labor's Forward with Fairness industrial relations policy last Saturday.

The hard Right corporate line is that a compliant Australian Labor Party is willing to sacrifice its standing with business to roll out an outdated industrial relations policy. Presumably, it is up to Gillard to roll with the blows and deflect this kind of attack, and so let Rudd play Mr Nice Guy---'we will consult, we will get all the details right, businesses have a legitimate point of view to put forward ' etc etc.

What does suprise me is the way that many of federal Labor's front bench are back to their old games of leaking their "private views" to the Canberra Press gallery, including The Australian.

And some of their charges are spurious---eg, Gillard has not consulted on the IR policy --when she has done so. As she says:

...this policy was developed by me, working with Kevin Rudd, and staying in contact with some of my parliamentary colleagues (and) working through issues with colleagues. I consulted with the ACTU, I consulted with individual unions, I consulted with business, I have spoken to academics and others, I have spoken to lawyers, I have taken legal advice. We have worked on this solidly, drafting it in my office over a period of time. I had a briefing for parliamentary colleagues in the last sitting week of the parliament.

What are the leakers tyring to achieve by taking pot shots at Gillard in an election year? Are they trying to to cut Gillard down? They just can't help themselves?

Must have a think about who could be leaking, because the thought also crossed my mind that the Right had set up Gillard.
Presume you must have certain souls in mind- my instinct immediately conjures up visions of claques of "Roosterist" types.
Just watched 7'30 Report with O' Brien interviewing Combet. Who writes O'Brien's scripts?
Someone at CIS or IPA sits down for part of an afternoon with a word processor then a taxi whizzes the results over to ABC headquarters?
I can understand why they'd like to swat Gillard early. She is one of the few in the current ALP with enough of consciousness to think laterally and challenge a paradigm rather than mindlessly reinforcing it.
As it happens, lib elder uncle Bill Heffernan's rather "barren" aspersions imvolving poor Gillard seem to have enough of a shot in the foot for the libs, to have given her some priceless breathing space. Wonder if it will turn out to be as costly as Ralph Willis' priceless effort involving a bodgy letter fed by Costello's minions in the dying days of the Keating government?

Rudd is starting to become somewhat a character from Harry Potter. Magic wand in hand, I Kevin the Magnificent do banish these laws and deliver these ones...abracadabra!!
I think he may of forgotten about the senate though!