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Keating should end Government's ACTU cringe



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N E W S RELEASE J O H N H O W A R D , M.P. M E M B E R F O R B E N N E L O N G S H A D O W MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL

RELATIONS, E M P L O Y M E N T & TRAINING

1 March 1992

KEATING SHOULD END GOVERNMENT'S ACTU CRINGE

While thumping the table about Australia's independence the Prime Minister should worry about his Government's lack of independence from the ACTU.

Martin Ferguson, the President of the ACTU, last Friday silenced the Treasurer, John Dawkins, on the issue of youth wages after the latter had had some moments of real lucidity on the subject.

In the process the dominance of the ACTU over the Keating

Government has been demonstrated.

The Prime Minister's Economic Statement raised the issue of the level of youth wages.

Subsequently, the Treasurer stated the obvious, and something the Opposition has said for years, that high youth wages priced young people out of jobs.

This totally logical statement was too much for Martin Ferguson. At the meeting in Melbourne last Friday he reprimanded the

Treasurer complaining that Mr Dawkins had no right to canvass the issue without first obtaining the permission of the ACTU.

After the meeting he declared himself well satisfied that there would be no more transgressions on the subject from the

Treasurer. In other words, Mr Dawkins said he would keep quiet on the issue.

This extraordinary incident clearly shows the refusal of the ACTU to face reality about youth wages.

Worse than that, it illustrates the cringing attitude of the Keating Government towards the ACTU.

Right now young Australians are paying very dearly for this country's inflexible wage system, the rigidity of youth wages is particularly damaging.

Unfortunately, a tentative attempt by the Government to reĀ­ examine the issue has been banged on the head by the ACTU. With youth unemployment at 34% this is a tragic and unacceptable situation.

I am sure all Australians would be delighted if the Prime

Minister were to declare his Government independent of the ACTU. It would certainly be in the national interest.

But don't hold your breath. It will never happen.

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