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

bending in the wind « Previous | |Next »
August 29, 2007

The ALP's transitional arrangements indicate that its plans to "rip up" the Howard Government's industrial relations legislation has been postponed until 2010, in the name of striking a balance between flexibility and fairness. The thrust of the policy Rudd outlined yesterday - which builds on a Labor document released in April - is directed at appeasing the concerns of big business.


In addition to a five-year period for phasing out AWAs, a future Labor government would remove award regulation altogether for employees on more than $100,000 a year, and allow employers and individual workers to tailor award rules to their circumstances. Labor would also retain Work Choices' restrictions on union officials' rights to enter workplaces and sanctions against illegal strikes such as secondary boycotts and pattern bargaining where unions pursue industry-wide agreements.

So it is tough on unions.

By promising to abolish Australian Workplace Agreements Rudd is certainly rolling back Howard's laws. Rudd and Gillard say that AWA's go because they have been used to drive down pay and conditions for many workers in sectors such as retail and hospitality, so they are sticking to the ALP's plan to scrap them, subject to the protracted phasing-out arrangements.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:17 AM | | Comments (8)


These changes by Rudd and Gillard undercut the Big Business advertising campaign of frightening people that change is more dangerous than more of the same.

Fear fear fear. The dark image of the nasty union bullies and thugs laying waste to business civilization and our jobs. It' s a cartoon.

Both sides are running fear campaigns on this issue.

They've actually left a lot of Howard's reforms in place, but devoted a lot of attention to the safety net bits.

Just enough to enable them to keep saying they're getting rid of Workchoices and AWAs, which is what people will want to hear.

that is true. Rudd is not returning to to inflationary centralised wage fixing just as Howard is not returning to the law of the jungle.

And each side modifies its policy to make it appear more balanced. Howard restored the fairness business. Rudd and Gillard have offered sweetners to big business, with its concern for the abolition of AWA's.

However the ALP has offered little to small business, which is concerned with unfair dismissals.

Is the strategy to make the ALP look economically responsible?

even though Labor's Forward with Fairness is about flexibility and so undercuts the cartoon image of union thugs and bullies, the unions are not happy bunnies. They see it as AWA-lite, as being particularly tough on low income workers. It is also a betrayal given Labor's policy of restricting union's right to enter workplaces and severe restrictions on the right to strike. This is from the ACTU as well as Kevin Reynolds, Dean Mighell and Michele O'Neil.

So who represents the low income workers? The Greens?

A hypothetical political scenario is being drawn up: Rudd wins the election with Howard or Costello controls the Senate. So Rudd and Gillard need to rely on the Greens winning the balance of power in the Senate to get their IR legislation through.

If so the Senate becomes a genuine House of Review. Rudd and Gillard can whistle in the wind about their mandate. No doubt Rudd and Gillard will endeavour to keep a straight face despite the ALP's history of denying a mandate to Howard on the GST, Telstra and unfair dismissal.

No doubt Glenn Milne will receive the drip feed from Costello to remind us of the hypocrisy of Labor who cannot be trusted.

The more things change the more they remain the same.

I suspect Peter Beattie will seek a Senate seat.
But I don't know what would be worse Him, the greens, family first or Pauline Hanson controlling the senate.

unlikely. The ALP treats the Senate with indifference and contempt. So it's not for Beattie.

re your comment They've actually left a lot of Howard's reforms in place, but devoted a lot of attention to the safety net bits.

The problem Rudd and Gillard faced is that Joe Hockey and big business were able to turn the attack on Labor's IR policy into a broader assault on Labor's economic credibility.

Their line was that the ALP, posing as the champion of the working family, appeared to be damaging the mining industry, ending the resources boom, and pricking the prosperity bubble for everyone.

It was nonsense of course, but it struck at the ALP's key point of weakness-its lack of economic credibility. Rudd looked to be an economic vandal-- so determined was he and Gillard to dump WorkChoices that they were willing to put the nation's growth at risk.