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News Media Releases Howard visit highlights the history of WorkChoices
Howard visit highlights the history of WorkChoices
Monday, 16 August 2010 16:50

The visit of former Prime Minister John Howard to Perth should remind West Australian workers of the enthusiasm that both he and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott shared for WorkChoices.

“The return of John Howard should provide West Australian workers with a stark history lesson,” UnionsWA secretary Simone McGurk said.
“Four years ago, John Howard came to Perth telling us that WorkChoices would become “part of the furniture” with a Coalition victory. Despite claims to the contrary from the Opposition, most people believe that will again be the case.

“The parallels don’t stop there. Prior to the last election we had the Howard Government blocking Channel Seven from exposing a raft of further changes to the Industrial Relations laws. Now we have the Barnett government keeping the Amendola Report into the state’s IR laws under lock and key until after the Federal Election.

“They are certainly nothing if not consistent.”

In February this year Mr Abbott told business leaders he would like to revive parts of WorkChoices, including the relaxation of unfair dismissal laws for small businesses and the reintroduction of statutory non-union contracts.

During the election campaign he said that WorkChoices was “dead, buried and cremated” yet later admitted the legislation could be “tweaked” and that he couldn’t “guarantee every piece of legislation.”

Ms McGurk said that the arrival of Howard also offered a chance to reflect on the state of Workplace relations.

“Three years ago, the scare campaign was telling us that without WorkChoices the mining industry and the WA economy would collapse. This has been proven to be false and we have seen the demand for skills keeping wages robust in the resources sector. We have also witnessed the new resources projects successfully negotiating collective agreements through the Fair Work Act.”

“If the Liberal party chooses to celebrate John Howard, then we should remember what he stood for, and that was WorkChoices. It remains a central philosophy to the Coalition and voters would do well to remind themselves of that prior to Saturday.”

Budget figures show the Howard Government spent $121 million of tax payer dollars on advertising and explaining its Work Choices laws.

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