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Postponement of the industrial relations legislation giant backdown



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M E D I A R E LEA SE SENATOR FRED CHANEY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT A N D INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

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The postponement of the industrial relations legislation is a giant backdown by the Hawke Government.

But it looks more like a political tactic than a genuine change of heart.

After years of inquiry by the Hancock Committee, two further years of consideration of those recommendations and the fanfare of its introduction 12 days ago, the Government has deferred the legislation only hours before it was due to be debated in the

House of Representatives.

This extraordinary, last-minute decision completely vindicates the strong campaign mounted by the Federal Opposition and by all leading employer organisations against the Bill.

Without such a united and concerted stand against the legislation there is no doubt the Government would have tried to push through its proposals to put unions above the law.

Of course, that danger is by no means past.

There is absolutely no guarantee that the Government will agree to the major and fundamental changes needed to genuinely reform our antiquated and totally unsatisfactory industrial relations system.

No doubt the Government will try to use the delay and process of consultation to undermine the united industry opposition to this attempt to further entrench the privileged position of trade unions. That must not be allowed to happen.

The most likely reason for today's decision is that the political hard-heads and gung-ho election merchants have overruled the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations attempt to have the Bill passed into law. It smells very much like an attempted

clearing of th0 decks in a lead up to an election.

But it need not think that the tactic of putting this issue on the backburner will work.

During the election campaign, whenever it is held, the Government's desire to increase union power will be a major issue.

Australians must realise that today's decision is only a strategic postponement.

While welcoming the withdrawal of the legislation from the current session of Parliament, I put the Government on notice that the Opposition will not relent in its campaign to have the proposals finally consigned to the waste paper basket.

CANBERRA 26 May 1987 ยท Contact: Keith Kessell (062) 72 6380