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The Australian waterfront must come into the real world



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JOHN SHARP MEDIA RELEASE

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SHIPPING AND WATERFRONT REFORM

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: Tel 06 2 7 7 4213, Fax 0 6 2 7 7 2 1 2 4

THE AUSTRALIAN WATERFRONT MUST COME INTO THE REAL WORLD

The current $40 million row on "he Australian waterfront over who will pay to get rid of the almost one thousand surplus wharfies exposes the fact that the standards set by the Federal Government in the WIRA redundancy packages were absurdly high and also the fact that the central problem of labour inflexibility is still just as much a problem as it was at the outset of the Government's reform program.

It was outrageous for wharfies to be walking away with packages of an average $100,000 (above their already generous superannuation pay-outs), and it was outrageous that it was entirely up to them as to whether they went at all.

Now, the taxpayer is being asked to pick up the tab again because the Federal Government was too gutless to make redundancy compulsory in the first place, and because everyone concerned was settled for a Clayton's reform program that set its targets only a litle of ground level.

The situation is simple. If there is no work, there is clearly no job, and the wharfies who find that there is no longer a job for them should be treated no differently than any other Australian - they should be paid off at standard market rates and have made available to them the same assistance that is given to any other Australian in similar circumstances

of redundancy.

The notion that wharfies are a protected species who deserve special treatment is indefensible - the more so since their own past record has made such a negative economic contribution.

Until the Australian waterfront is put on a rational basis, responsive to supply and demand and a fluctuating market, Australia will only be able to look at the competitive status of our rivals and neighbours in envy.

In the current crisis, there is only one rational response - face up to the reality of over supply of labour and the need for compulsory redundancy, on a basis of equality with the rest of the community, with no more sweetheart packages paid for by the taxpayer.

Ends...........WR55/92 Contact: John Wallis

17-8-92 A/H 06 295 6796

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