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Melbourne University: transcript of doorstop interview: ALP National Conference; election; unemployment.



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THE HON PETER REITH MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND SMALL BUSINESS LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

Transcript

Doorstop interview- Melbourne University Subjects: ALP National Conference; election; unemployment.

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JOURNALIST:

Minister, what’s your reaction to the [inaudible] speech that Kim Beazley has given today, at the ALP Conference in Hobart?

REITH:

Just more empty rhetoric hollow promises and the usual mantra of corrosive division pitting sort of country against city and suburb against suburb but nothing new from Kim Beazley whose leadership is obviously deteriorating day by day. He needed to announce something substantial, some real policies but in the area of employment, for example, still no employment policy. He repeated a few comments from February and there was nothing in them because we were doing them anyway. So no, unfortunately for Mr Beazley he’s again just demonstrated a lack of leadership and a lack of new ideas and a complete incapacity to control his own party.

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible] correctly when you were saying that you thought the next election will be fought around the issue of workplace relations?

REITH:

Well, workplace relations should be an important issue in the next election because the Labor Party has just given over the whole labour market regulation to the trade union hierarchy at the expense of the rank and file. This is no surprise. 66 per cent of the delegates at this Conference are either union hacks or former union hacks who have been promoted into the Parliament. The rank and file at the most is sort of two and three per cent and basically they are squeezed out. And so you have got the Labor Party deliberating in a situation of a conference for the unions, by the unions, of the unions and the rank and file

workers don’t get a look-in. Under the Coalition, rank and file workers have seen substantial increases in pay. If Labor were to revert to their old policies once again the rank and file membership would miss out. Under Labor real wages fell by five per cent under the accord from start to finish of Labor’s 13 years. I think most rank and file workers would think the Work for the Dole was a good idea but the union bosses don’t like it so because they have got 66 per cent of the vote that’s the end of the Work for the Dole.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Reith, in the Conference hall you talked about the Coalition doing better with unemployment, getting unemployment down. Would you care to put a figure on how low unemployment could go under the Coalition and what measures that you could adopt to bring it down lower?

REITH:

We have already introduced a series of measures into the Parliament which would assist with job creation, which would help small business. Mr Beazley’s policy to abolish the Trade Practices Act provisions on secondary boycotts is a disaster for small business. That’s going to close a whole lot of businesses as a result of industry wide strikes which is another one of the union policies which has been foisted on Mr Beazley. None of these policies are in favour of small business, they are all anti small business. They’re a pro-union boss at the expense of the rank and file workers and at the expense of small business. And so the Coalition has got a series of policies where the Labor Party is voting against them, in the same way they voted against other reforms already introduced by us which have been clearly in the interests of small business and job creation.

JOURNALIST:

What’s [inaudible] of unemployment numbers though Mr Reith?

REITH:

Well, a good set of numbers are the 50,000 jobs that I believe could be created if the Labor Party were able to stand back from the 66 per cent of union delegates and vote for our unfair dismissal reforms. Small business has estimated that up to 50,000 jobs could be created if we had a better system in respect of dismissals. Kim Beazley can’t do that because he’s got 66 per cent of union delegates at his conference telling him what his policy should be.

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible] not such a great figure….

REITH:

I haven’t seen the figure.

[ends]

 

 

 

For further information contact:

Ian Hanke 0419 484 095

31/07/2000