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Crean and the ACTU embrace 'Aus-slave'

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John Howard NEWS RELEASE Member for Ben nelongShadow Minister for Industrial Relations & Manager of Opposition Business in the House IR 015/94


Mr Crean's announcement today regarding training wages, based on eighty percent of awards at three different skill levels, shows a rejuvenated, if not belated, acceptance of a proposal which the

Liberal and National parties put forward at the last federal election.

The union movement has also showed an uncanny ability to argue and capture both sides of the debate by finally accepting that employers should be enticed with discounted wages to take on unemployed Australians.

The Coalition's Austrain proposal offered those unemployed for more than six, twelve and eighteen months, discounted wages at ninety, eighty and seventy percent of the relevant award,

respectively. This policy was designed to encourage employers to take on Australians whose fortunes had sunk with Keating's recession and whose skills had therefore suffered during their period of unemployment.

Mr Crean's announcement today shows that the political and industrial wings of the labour movement have embraced the Coalition's ideas.

These are the same ideas that also drew such dire prophesies of Sodom and Gomorrah-type destruction and an unravelling of our social fabric not more than fourteen months ago.

The former Treasurer, Mr Dawkins, said in the House of Representatives on 19 August 1992 that the election of a Coalition government would "force (the unemployed) into a position of legalised slavery where they would actually have to take a cut of 20 per cent below the award rates in order to get work".

Of course, the ACTU and the government don't call their plan, which is virtually indistinguishable from the Austrain policy, legalised slavery, but, in Mr Crean's words, "A win win position".



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The present Treasurer and former Minister for Finance, Mr Willis, described Austrain as "Aus-slave" .

The Coalition welcomes the government's adoption of "Aus-slave".

The introduction of a training wage, however, requires the government to urgently address the way in which the unfair dismissal provisions of the Industrial Relations Reform Act will impact upon those employers willing to take on trainees under this scheme.

There exists widespread concern amongst employers that they will be caught up in the complicated and expensive unfair dismissal provisions of the new act should they find a trainee unsuitable

or unwilling to comply with further employment.

Already the Opposition is aware of reports that unscrupulous employees are using the provisions to defy and even intimidate employers.

The problems cause by Mr Brereton's legislation must be speedily addressed and resolved so that the government's embracing of the principle of training wages can have a maximum and beneficial impact.