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Behind the scenes in Senate Committees: Labor works to decipher and unpick the real impact of Orwellian legislation.\n



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BEHIND THE SCENES IN SENATE COMMITTEES: LABOR WORKS TO DECIPHER AND UNPICK THE REAL IMPACT OF ORWELLIAN LEGISLATION

The first rule of interpreting the legislative program of the Howard Government is to skill up on your vocabulary. If you are good at understanding antonyms - words that have the opposite meaning of the word in question - then you will know what this government is on about.

There are countless examples of this - from the classic “More jobs, fairer pay bill” union bashing bill to the current “Protecting the Low Paid Bill”, whose aim is to stop minimum wage increases.

The point of this legislation, as supported by groups such as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is, to undermine the minimum wage. To ‘help’ the low paid by cutting their wages.

As has been argued by the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union ….. ACCI correctly points out that growth in real wages is higher under the Howard Government than under Labor. Such simplistic statistics however ignore the very real benefits delivered to lower paid workers under Labor at a time when our economy was caught up in two global recessions and massive global economic transformations. Labor delivered a significant social wage, often worth more than $100 a week. That is, we provided: better and universal health care, better income distribution through progressive taxation, decent and quality training programs for young people and the unemployed, quality and accessible public education and sustained economic growth which laid the foundations for the current face value wages growth. This social wage was far greater than the extra 1% wages growth gained under Howard - wage increases opposed more often than not by this government.

[June 2003]