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Prime Minister confirms pro-union bias in IR reforms



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NEWS RELEASE

JOHN HOWARD. M.P. MEMBER FOR BENNELONG SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

IR 057/93

PRIME MINISTER CONFIRMS PRO-UNION BIAS IN IR REFORMS

The Prime Minister's challenge to the Coalition on industrial relations reform, contained in his speech to the Business Council of Australia last night, confirms my repeated claims that the Brereton package does not usher in genuine workplace bargaining for non-unionists and is a sell-out to the ACTU.

By challenging the Opposition to make industrial relations an issue at the next election, Mr Keating has confirmed the policy gulf which exists between the Government and the Coalition on this issue.

Yet his original plan, as outlined to the Institute of Company Directors in April, was to bury industrial relations as a political issue by making workplace bargaining freely available to non-unionists and encouraging the adoption of workplace agreements as full substitutes for awards.

Something happened to Laurie Brereton on the way to this brave new world. He was mugged by the ACTU heavies who called in their IOUs from the March election.

With the help of the Prime Minister, they not only got the long-promised weakening of the secondary boycott laws, but they also killed off any hope of worthwhile reform.

The system agreed to by the Government will be more rigid than the present one and even more advantageous to the trade union movement.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the Prime Minister has chosen to emphasise the differences between the Coalition and the Government rather than camouflage them, as was his intention last April.

I can readily assure the Prime Minister that a deep divide remains between the Labor Party and the Liberal and National Parties on the issue of industrial relations.

The Coalition opposes compulsory unionism. supports it. The Labor Party

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Weakening secondary boycott protections, as proposed by the Government, will place unions above the law. The Coalition will oppose this.

The Government has further demeaned Australia's sovereignty by another resort to ILO Conventions to achieve a domestic political objective. The Coalition will oppose this.

The Government supports continued discrimination against non-unionists in the workplace. By contrast, the Coalition believes that all Australian employees should be treated equally.

The Prime Minister is deluding himself if he believes industrial relations played a major role in his re-election last March.

He may rest assured that it will remain a major area of discord between the Government and the opposition over the next two and a half years.

The goal of a fully competitive and more productive Australian economy will never be achieved without extensive labour market reform. The shackles binding the Labor Government to the

union movement prevent this Government from delivering that reform.

SYDNEY 15 October 1993