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Waterfront deal an outrageous tax on trade



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FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

MEDIA RELEASE

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

WATERFRONT DEAL AN OUTRAGEOUS TAX ON 1Έ Α ΡΕ

A deal believed to have been closed between Federal Ministers Collins and Cook, the WWF and the stevedoring employers to "fix" the waterfront surplus labour crisis is nothing more than an outrageous tax on trade.

It is simply throwing good money after bad.

What is more, it is a tax that is being extracted at the expense of Australia's

competitiveness in world markets in order to protect the perks of wharfies whose fat cat conditions are already out of kilter with the suffering the recession is causing the rest of Australia.

The deal will see the Government kick in the remaining $10 million from the frozen funds in the December 1991 commitment of $20 million, with a further amount, probably close to $80 million, to be funded principally through an extension of the

Statutory Levy that was to have ended with the WIRA program - and which will now most likely continue into 1995! The $80 million will be raised as a Government loan on the security of the extension of the Levy - which is paid for by the users.

The stevedores did not pay the "industry" costs of the WIRA redundancies, which were paid by shipping companies and have been used as their excuse for their inability to pass on the "savings" from waterfront reform. Once again in this "fix" the costs of surplus labour are to he passed on to the only people who have no control

over the size of the labour force - the users. They have yet to see any cost savings from the Government's reform program and this deal will ensure that they have to wait until 1995 before they have any chance of doing so.

Despite the assurance last December that the extra kick-in of $40 million would solve the surplus labour problem, labour inflexibility has ensured that the crisis simply returned in the same old guise again as soon as trade declined.

The Government that has just delivered a dead-on-arrival Budget with more unanswered taxation questions titan details is now allowing yet another hidden tax - and in doing so clearly signals that its waterfront reform program simply did not work.

However, there is no more reason to believe that this "fix" will work any better than the last. The clear winners are the wharfies, who get yet another bite at the Rolls Roycc redundancy grab, and the stevedores who are able to side-step the commercial

C O M M O N W E A L T H PARUAMAm Ml A(Y LIBRARY

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consequences of commercial decisions that enterprises in other sectors have to contend with.

Having concluded their enterprise agreements, the stevedores should be expected to operate commercially and take full responsibility for their own commercial decisions.

It is now absolutely clear that waterfront reform has been bungled by the

Government, the unions, and employers. It has fallen into a ditch of their own making because of their refusal to bite the bullet of normalising employment on the waterfront - that is, ending the cushy job for life.

This outrageous fix will no more solve anything than did the fix before it. The only way in which the crisis can be dealt with rationally is by ending security of tenure and allowing employers adjust their workforce to commercial requirements.

The Australian community is paying a very high price for the Government's readiness to look after its favourite union mates, Farmers, in particular, would have been grateful for the $420 that will have been spent on 4,000 wharfies after this fix - and which would have gone a long way towards the costs of restructuring the primary seclor!

Too much of the taxpayers' money has already been tossed into the wharfies' pockets, protecting them from the chill winds of the recession felt by all other Australians. Genuine reform of the waterfront will only come when the waterfront labour force is normalised - and that means no more job for life cushion from reality.

Ends...........WR61/92 Contact: John Wallis

25-8-92 A/H 06 295 6796

Mr Sharp can be contacted for interview until 4.00 today on 02 247 8125