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

IRET 015/93

CATHOLIC DOCUMENTS WRONG

I totally and utterly reject the criticisms of the Coalition's industrial relations policy by spokesmen for certain Catholic Church groups.

The, criticisms rest on grievous misrepresentations and straight factual errors.

Unfortunately, the misrepresentation is not confined to the policy.

The statements should - but do not - make clear that these spokesmen are speaking for themselves and their groups and cannot claim to be speaking on behalf of the Catholic Church.

It is- abundantly clear that none of the spokesmen to whom I have referred were enunciating the collective views of the Catholic Church, or of the Catholic bishops in Australia.

Moreover, no attempt was made by either of the groups in question to discuss their concerns about the policy with me despite the fact that the policy has been in the public arena since October last year.

I have seen two documents. One was a statement published jointly today by the Catholic Social Justice Commission in the Perth Archdiocese and a body calling itself the Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace. It claimed the endorsement of

four other groups.

The second was a document under a covering letter from the

chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane to parish priests, inviting, them to put the material before their parishioners.

I repeat: the documents are based on gross distortions of the Coalition's industrial relations policy.

The policy does not ban or proscribe unions. It bans compulsory unionism, a practice that has denied people the right to work unless they surrender their fundamental right to freedom of association.

It does not prevent workers from Joining existing unions of their choice or forming new unions - something they cannot do under existing industrial relations law.

I COMMONWEALTH I PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY I. MICAH

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The policy does not prevent workers from appointing unions to represent them-in the bargaining process. It obliges employers to recognise unions appointed as bargaining agents and to bargain in good faith.

Therefore the statement on page five of the Queensland document circulated to parishes in Brisbane, "the Opposition's JOBSIACK! package denies the worker the right to representation. in negotiating an agreement in the legal arena", is totally false.

To claim that the policy will marginalise the trade unions by preventing them from becoming signatories to individual workplace agreements is outrageous.

The claim in the document that poorly paid and low-skilled workers will suffer is without foundation.

JOBSBACKI guarantees certain minimum -conditions where workplace agreements are negotiated and provides full access to a`publicly funded Employee Advocate to ensure that the legitimate grievances of employees under workplace agreements

are pursued.

SYDNEY 3• February 19 9 3

Comments on the statements by Catholic Church groups are

available from:

Sir Peter Lawler, Papal Knight and former Ambassador to Ireland and the Holy See - 06 295 1946

Bishop W Brennan, Episcopal Head of the Catholic Social justice Commission 4 03 376 7378

Bishop John Mayne - Bishop to the Armed Forces -03 568 5307