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Prime Minister plans a TV advertising campaign on industrial relations changes.

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Thursday 4 August 2005

Prime Minister plans a TV advertising campaign on industrial relations changes


TONY EASTLEY: The Prime Minister says opponents of the industrial rel ations changes are trying to frighten people. He says they're telling lies and misinforming the public. The Government is preparing a TV advertising campaign of its own, to counter the ACTU's advertisements. 


A document leaked to the Australian newspaper today says the advertisements will say that the industrial relations changes are necessary for the retention of the Australian way of life. 


The union movement says that claim is a confidence trick. 


Louise Yaxley reports. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: The Prime Minister says people are running around making absurd allegations about the impact of the IR changes. He's told radio 2GB it's a scare campaign. 


JOHN HOWARD: Well, what's going on is what normally happens when a big reform is undertaken.  


You announce the outline of it, you then prepare the legislation and during that period between the announcement of the outline and the presentation of the legislation, people who oppose the reform misinform the public, tell lies about what the Government's intentions are and generally try and frighten the tripe out of people, as you put it so eloquently, in order to stop the Government going ahead. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: Mr Howard has again refused to guarantee that no worker would be worse off under the changes. 


JOHN HOWARD: I'm not going to make the mistake of purporting to guarantee that the take home pay of every single individual amongst the 10 million workforce in Australia is not going to change, but what I can guarantee is this: that this Government is not going to introduce any policy that is going to result in a cut of the take home pay or living standards of the Australian workforce. 


We were accused of this nine years ago when we brought in some changes to the work place relations system and over the last nine-and-a-half years, the take home pay of Australian workers has risen. 


One of the reasons why we enjoy the support of millions of wage and salary earners around Australia is that we have delivered better wages and better working conditions than any Labor Government in the past. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: The Government's preparing an advertising campaign with just those messages in it, that the changes would bring more jobs. The Australian newspaper reports it would also tackle about retaining the Australian way of life. 


The ACTU's Greg Combet says that's a con. 


GREG COMBET: Well, of course we haven't seen the ads, but the strategy to try and be reassuring is really quite laughable. I mean, what the Government is proposing to do is to force people to bargain for things that are currently legally guaranteed.  


You know, issues like public holidays, your annual holidays, your overtime pay, your penalty rates, even lunch breaks have been thrown into question. These things are currently legally guaranteed; under the proposed changes they will not.  


I think it's a fair challenge to try and reassure people that if the Government is intending to tell people the facts, which I doubt. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: The Prime Minister says workers can bargain on those things now. 


JOHN HOWARD: I have said that the existing arrangements concerning meal breaks and public holidays will continue. There are some cases already where people take a shorter meal break. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: But Mr Howard says people should be paid more if they work on public holidays. 


JOHN HOWARD: It would be absurd and unfair and unreasonable if somebody has to work on a public holiday, that that person isn't compensated by being paid whatever it is - the double-time or the time-and-a-half. 


TONY EASTLEY: The Prime Minister John Howard.