Australian Government to introduce IR reforms next week

Monday, October 24, 2005

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian industrial relations legislation, 2005

In an industrial relations conference in Melbourne this week, Minister Kevin Andrews has released that the government's new industrial relations (IR) legislation is likely to be introduced sometime next week in the Australian lower house. The Senate employment committee will hold an inquiry into the legislation. According to Mr Andrews this inquiry will probably run for a week in the non-sitting period of parliament. He said the legislation would then be debated in the Senate in the last sitting weeks of the year.

The new workplace reforms have evoked widespread controversy from both sides of the political spectrum. The Australian Council of Trade Unions launched TV advertisements to counter the government's new legislation. The 100 million dollar 'Work Choices' advertisements by the Australian Government has been criticised as a political use of taxpayers dollars.

Prime Minister John Howard has contended that the new reforms are necessary to keep our economy competitive and update outdated laws. The opposition says a new class of working poor will be created in Australia under the planned IR changes.

One proposed change will deny Centrelink welfare payments to anyone who refuses a job, no matter what the conditions. Mr Andrews has backed up the legislation:

"For an individual the best form of welfare they can have is to have a job".

However, Labor's Stephen Smith has rejected such claims

"What we will end up with is people being forced onto inferior wages, inferior conditions and the great risk is that we end up with a working poor just as you find in the United States,"

Michael Raper, spokesperson for the National Welfare Rights Network says it is a severe penalty.

"We've been trying to draw attention to the fact that any unemployed person will have to accept whatever conditions they're offered because if you reject a job offer you will lose Centrelink payments for eight weeks," he said.

The University of Sydney has released a report card on the changes available. [1]

You can access the government's 'Work Choices' information online at: