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Labor puts Kelty before Chifley

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John Howard Member for BennelongShadow Minister for Industrial Relations & Manager of Opposition Business in the House24 October 1993Labor puts Kelty before ChifleyLast week an ALP caucus task force produced yet another report lamenting the high level ofunemployment.This coming week the government will make the unemployment situation worse by introducing MrBrereton's industrial relation changes.That such a bizarre paradox can occur is a testament to the fact that union power remains the greatuntouchable in Labor folklore.Ben Chifley's light on the hill is less important than Bill Kelty's place in the sun.Industrial relations changes proposed by the Keating government will, through the addition of freshminimum standards in awards, add to labour market rigidity and increase the cost of employingAustralians, thus worsening unemployment.Furthermore the weakening of the secondary boycott law will give unions legal immunities denied toother sections of the community.The caucus task force endorsed a number of coalition policy attitudes. In the process it, perhapsunwittingly, exposed the rigidity of the labour market as a prime cause of high unemployment.Before the last election the coalition condemned the Training Guarantee Levy and the SuperannuationGuarantee Levy. It warned that the latter measure would make unemployment worse.Both measures made the labour market more rigid and particularly in the case of the superannuation levyincreased the cost of employing people.These pre-election criticisms by the coalition were ridiculed by the Labor party. Now a caucus task forcehas admitted that the coalition was right. In the process it has validated a long standing argument of thecoalition about the causes of unemployment.-Yet so sacrosanct is union power in Labor hearts and minds that the task force totally ignored labourmarket rigidities in recommending reforms to the government.Anyone doubting the direct link between labour market rigidity. and high unemployment should explainwhy, unemployment in the United States is below 7% yet in Australia and most of Europe it hoversbetween 10 and 11%.Once again the Labor party has chosen to treat the symptoms rather than one of the main causes ofunemployment.COiMr1MONW AL.iHELIAMENNTARY L1i3RMY MfCAH