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Abbott wrecks parliamentary committee: joint statement from the Labor Members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment and Workplace Relations.



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Joint Statement from the Labor Members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment and Workplace Relations

Abbott wrecks parliamentary committee

The head kicking tactics of Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott are threatening to wreck the work of a bipartisan Parliamentary committee.

Mr Abbott has insisted that the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment and Workplace Relations look only at fraud in the workers compensation system - an inquiry designed to promote sensationalist and shallow stories, rather than solutions to the many problems facing workers compensation.

Parliamentary committees traditionally conduct detailed inquiries into non-partisan public policy issues, very often resulting in unanimous recommendations with members of all parties agreeing.

In this spirit, Labor members have spent some weeks proposing broader terms of reference that would allow the committee to conduct a full and comprehensive inquiry into workers compensation, including all of the matters that the minister wanted covered.

At every point, Mr Abbott has rejected these efforts.

It is the same trademark head kicking approach to debate seen from Mr Abbott every day in question time, where his abusive and inflammatory conduct is commonplace. Promoted by the Prime Minister to be Leader of the House, Mr Abbott is supposed to be responsible for raising parliamentary standards. Something no observer of question time could ever accuse him of that.

Now he is trying to impose the same lowbrow standards on parliamentary committees.

The parliamentary privilege system prevents disclosure of the full details of proposals discussed by the committee, as these details have not been authorised for public disclosure.

The Labor committee members therefore call on the minister to immediately release his letters to the committee, and give notice that they will be moving at the next meeting to have all relevant material released so that the public can see how the affairs of the committee have been twisted.

Ends.

Thursday, 11 July 2002

For further comment: Arch Bevis (07) 3356 1555

The ALP Members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment and Workplace Relations are: Arch Bevis (Deputy Chair)(Brisbane); Jill Hall (Shortland); Maria Vamvakinou (Calwell); and Kim Wilkie (Swan).