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Inquiry inadequate to address IR concerns.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA MONDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2005

SENATOR ANDREW MURRAY AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS WORKPLACE RELATIONS SPOKESPERSON

INQUIRY INADEQUATE TO ADDRESS IR CONCERNS After half a day of the WorkChoice Bill inquiry it is clear that the 5 day hearing is going to be woefully inadequate for fully scrutiny of this convoluted and complex legislation.

According to Australian Democrats Workplace Relations Spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray, "This critical legislation introduces fundamental changes to the industrial relations system which will have a major impact on Australians and their families, and will transform six systems into one, against the wishes of the states.

"Unlike previous transfers of powers to the Commonwealth under corporations tax and other laws, this is the first time in the history of the Federation that we are faced with a hostile takeover by the Commonwealth of state systems.

"Yet this morning we had less than 2 hours for 5 parties to examine evidence presented by 6 of the State and Territory IR Ministers.

"Of critical importance was evidence provided by Victoria and Western Australia that showed that under similar reforms of the Kennett and Court Governments there were no job or productivity increases, but wages did fall, in particular women's wages fared worse.

"Prices did not appear to fall as a result of the Kennett reforms but rather profits from wage reductions simply went into the pockets of employers.

"The Department confirmed that it is unlikely that the Government will move to index the minimum wage or to address the issue of 18 year olds doing adult work being paid junior wages.

"The more I delve into the Governments industrial relations changes the more I am convinced that they talk about choice and productivity, but the effect will be to exploit vulnerable members of Australian society, in exchange for greater company profit.

"Whether there is support for the legislation or not, the committee process has always been valuable in identifying mistakes, unintended consequences, and improving flawed legislation. This Bill is flawed, will produce unintended consequences, includes contradictory elements, and clearly more time is needed, " concluded Senator Murray.

Media contact - Senator Murray 0419 958038