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Reforming industrial relations - or, sooling the calamari

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31 August 1993


4^:Y Li ARY


DUU L.lid11GJ IY1l" "P WS KE LI iI 0V

Federal Member for La Trobe



This election has given you a breathing space to get out there and organically expand the tentacles of unionism to make enterprise bargaining work ...

...[The Government] sees the enterprise agreement path as a sensible and organic operation of the organisation of the trade union movement which lets you build a more relevant place in the industrial culture of this country and where you are not

sitting at the whim and caprice of some centralised structure and where we have a golden opportunity in this next year to legislate ways that really set up a new industrial relations system in australia and one which you are a key part of and which gives you all the opportunities to exploit ... N - Paul Keating to the ACTU Congress, Sydney, 31 August 1993.

Several things are obvious from this gobbledegook.

First, the Prime Minister hasn't the faintest idea what his Government's industrial relations policy is supposed to be now that the ACTU has rejected the Brereton proposals.

Second, whatever the policy turns out to be, the parliament is not likely to see it before next year.

Third, the Accord partners obviously cannot agree on what the darned thing means, even though they have both asked a full-bench of the Industrial Relations Commission to endorse it.

Fourth, enterprise agreements are unlikely to be made available to the non-unionised sector of the workforce. Instead, the non-unionised sector of the workforce is to be made available to the trade unions ("get out there and

organically expand the tentacles of unionism ...")

Fifth, there is unlikely to be much enthusiasm among the non-unionised employees for enterprise agreements. Who wants to be embraced by an organically expanding tentacle?

Finally, Laurie Brereton is going to have trouble finding something to talk about to the Congress for an hour on Thursday. Perhaps he should just do what Ralph Willis and Peter Cook did and chuck the whole thing in now.

ELECTORATE OFFTCEShop 30 Dorset Square, BORONL9, 3155 PFE(03) 762 4066 FAX (03) 762 9847 CANBERRA OFFfCEParliament Hous e, CANBERRA, 2600 PTh(06) 277 4775 FAX (06) 277 8535