Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Millionth AWA sparks fresh IR debate -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Reporter: Greg Jennett

Unions have attacked the Prime Minister John Howard for celebrating the signing of the
one-millionth Australian Workplace Agreement.


TONY JONES: To politics in this country now and one million Australian workers have now taken up
individual workplace agreements, something the Prime Minister considers to be a milestone in
industrial reform. John Howard has marked the occasion with a party for the Adelaide man who became
the one-millionth person to sign. Unions say it's a dark day for all who have ever had to work
under an AWA. From Canberra, Greg Jennett reports.

GREG JENNETT: After nine years cooking up industrial relations changes, John Howard has got the
icing on the cake.

JOHN HOWARD: There you go. Well done.

GREG JENNETT: Disability worker Bob Raven is the one millionth person to take out an Australian
Workplace Agreement. The Prime Minister wasn't going to let the milestone go unnoticed.

JOHN HOWARD: Are you finding the working arrangement satisfactory? Flexible?

BOB RAVEN: I couldn't fault it.

GREG JENNETT: AWAs have been available since 1997, but it's since his WorkChoices regime that came
into force six months ago that Mr Howard says they have really taken off.

JOHN HOWARD: Something like 117,000 have been signed over the last six months and the month of
September saw something like 27,000 AWAs signed.

GREG JENNETT: But in Hobart, David Hurd was in no mood to celebrate.

DAVID HURD: I went into panic mode. I wasn't sleeping, I was very grouchy.

GREG JENNETT: The petrol station attendant knocked back an agreement, claiming it would have
slashed his hourly rate by up to $7 an hour.

DAVID HURD: I stood to lose $190 per week. That I could not do in my budget.

GREG JENNETT: The Office of Workplace Services investigated and found the service station operator
had done nothing wrong.

SHARAN BURROW: So it might be legal, but it's morally bankrupt and how on earth can working
Australians stay afloat if that is how companies behave using John Howard's industrial relations

GREG JENNETT: The million AWAs John Howard celebrates aren't all current. Unions claim the number
in operation is probably closer to half a million and still less than five per cent of the
workforce. If Kim Beazley gets his way, it will be even fewer this time next year.

KIM BEAZLEY: How he can boast about a million of those things escapes me, but he's got 12 months to
run on them and then we are going to change the system to a fair system.

GREG JENNETT: He can count on support from unionists like these, who turned out to spoil the
Workplace Relations Minister's party at the Industrial Relations Commission in Melbourne.