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News News Coalition cheeky to play bias card
THE Federal Government has always dismissed any report unfavourable of Work Choices by taking aim at either those who wrote it, commissioned it, or both.

Yesterday it scaled new heights by seeking to traduce thoroughly the reputations of the University of Sydney academics who authored the Australia@Work report.

Interviews of 8343 people found that those on Australian Workplace Agreements earned on average $106 a week less than those on collective agreements.

Rather than directly dispute the findings or methodology, the Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, came out swinging. The report was junk because it had been partly funded by Unions NSW and authored by "former trade union officials who are parading as academics", he declared.

But none of the academics has been a trade union official and Unions NSW and the Government's Australian Research Council co-funded the report.

Peter Costello called it "contaminated" because of Unions NSW's involvement. "He who pays the piper calls the tune," Costello said.

This argument may have a shred of credibility if only the Government was consistent.

Its own pipers, the pro-Work Choices Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Building and Construction Commission, have commissioned reports by economic modellers Econtech. Both warn of economic Armageddon should Labor be elected and wind back Work Choices. Despite at least one of these reports having questionable terms of reference, both have been brandished by the Government as holy writ.

The ACCI and the ABCC are every bit as supportive of Work Choices as the unions are opposed. The Government is sitting on another similar report it commissioned Econtech to undertake.

It passes strange that the Government should be so amazed and angry at suggestions that some have been dudded by Work Choices.

In John Winston Howard: A Life, the biography of the Prime Minister released this year, two ministers attested the Government introduced the legislation knowing there would be losers.

And in May when the Government was forced to introduce the fairness test, Hockey admitted "we got it wrong". He confessed: "We underestimated what would have happened if we put in place a system that may lead to people trading away penalty rates without fair compensation."

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