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Government's reform program still haunted by the obvious



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JOHN SHAAP ^ MEDIA RELEASE

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SHIPPING AND WATERFRONT REFORM

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: Tel 0 6 2 7 7 4213, Fax 0 6 2 7 7 2 1 2 4

GOVERNMENTS REFORM PROGRAM STILL HAUNTED BY THE OBVIOUS

The combined effects of the shift from industry employment to enterprise agreements and the Keating-designed recession have brought the Government's waterfront reform program to its knees in a surplus labour crisis, despite the fact that the problem is obvious, as is the solution.

It is becoming clear that what is likely is yet another bucket of cash to be thrown in the wharfies' direction to purchase yet another one-off quick "fix", despite the Interstate Commission's warning that "Attention should not be narrowly focussed on a particular quick fix". The problem of the job for life is still being avoided.

The Government still refuses to make structural changes to enable waterfront operators to meet changing market circumstances - and condemns our exporters to an antiĀ­ competitive burden that will eliminate them from international markets. The continued luxury of a job for life guarantee for wharfies is absolutely indefensible, especially in Labor's recession when the rest of Australia is having to do it tough.

$340 million in redundancies down the drain, to line the pockets of the wharfies as a sweetener to no avail, has not been enough to get the point through to the Government. Nor has the appalling inequality of off-loading onto the waterfront user and the taxpayer the cost of dealing with the consequences of years of workpractice abuse by the wharfies.

The problem was clearly stated in the report of the Interstate Commission's Waterfront Investigation. That said quite unequivocally that "Enterprise employment would be unworkable without some provision for compulsory redundancy."

It went on to explain "..the lack of compulsory redundancy programs in the past has resulted in large labour surpluses. These surpluses have continued until the problem has become so severe as to warrant extraordinary measures. The industry should not continue to be exposed to such traumatic and costly situations. All industries need the

ability to restructure to meet changing circumstances."

That was in March 1989 - and despite two and a half years of the Government's waterfront reform program, the job for life is just as great a problem on the waterfront and the surplus labour problem is no closer to solution.

By ignoring the central problems and avoiding essential structural reforms from the outset, the Government condemned Australia to the world's most expensive redundancy program, with no more to show for it than the guarantee that the problem will recur.

Ends..........WR31/92

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