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Unions, premiers rail against IR changes -

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Unions, premiers rail against IR changes

Reporter: Narda Gilmore

MAXINE McKEW: State Premiers are considering a High Court challenge as part of their fight against
John Howard's plans to seize control of industrial relations. Unions have also begun a massive
campaign against the Government's sweeping workplace reforms. But the Prime Minister says trade
unions are resorting to scare tactics. From Canberra, Narda Gilmore reports.

NARDA GILMORE: The unions wasted no time. This morning they were out in force to show John Howard
what's ahead.

PROTESTERS: Workers - yes! Howard - no!

NARDA GILMORE: This protest near Geelong forced the Prime Minister to find another location for a
road-funding announcement. In Sydney Labor Premiers were united, promising to fight the
Commonwealth's planned takeover of State industrial relations systems.

BOB CARR, NSW PREMIER: We are all considering the prospect of a High Court challenge initiated by
us or in partnership with the trade unions.

STEVE BRACKS, VICTORIAN PREMIER: This goes against the Australian character of a fair go for all.

NARDA GILMORE: Unions are planning a massive campaign against the changes, including rallies,
workplace meetings and an advertising blitz.

GREG COMBET, ACTU: These changes will put massive downward pressure on people's rights at work and
their living standards.

STEPHEN SMITH, OPPOSITION INDUSTRY SPOKESMAN: This is not evolution - this is revolution. This is
not incremental change - this is a major shift against working families and their interests.

NARDA GILMORE: Union delegates in Sydney watched a video which had dire warnings for the future.

JOHN ROBERTSON, UNIONS NSW: These laws are a recipe for social dislocation, stressed individuals,
fractured families and broken communities.

NARDA GILMORE: John Howard dismissed it as a scare campaign, saying families are better off now
than they've ever been under his Government.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: The same sorts of scare tactics were invoked nine years ago when other
changes were made and they were proved wrong, and these scare tactics will be proved wrong as well.

NARDA GILMORE: But the changes have also upset one State Liberal leader, who fears a national
industrial relations system would spell disaster if Labor wins government.

MATT BIRNEY, WA OPPOSITION LEADER: If the Federal Government turns over, it will be a diabolically
bad move. NARDA GILMORE: State Premiers insist there's no need for change.

PETER BEATTIE, QUEENSLAND PREMIER: I can't understand why, after a period of sound economic growth,
the Prime Minister wants to stuff it up.

NARDA GILMORE: John Howard will argue his case with the State Premiers when he meets them in
Canberra next week. He wants them to voluntarily hand over their workplace powers, but he's already
made it clear if they don't co-operate, he'll move to seize them anyway. Narda Gilmore, Lateline.