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Workplace Relations Bill marginalising young people.

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Media Release


Shadow Minister for Sport and Youth Affairs.

Shadow Minister Assisting the Shadow Minister for

Industry and Technology on Information Technology.

Labor Senator for the ACT


8 March 1999

Workplace Relations Bill marginalising young people

The Government’s Workplace Relations Amendment (Youth Employment) Bill is part of a continuing agenda of marginalising and disregarding young people in Australia, Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy said today.

"If you a re a young person - and for this Government that means 21 years and under - then you are fodder to be used up and disregarded, rather than treated according to competence and ability.

"People aged 18 to 20 years old in Australia are adults for all intents and purposes, except for pay rates. They are permitted to purchase and consume alcohol, to enter into contractual financial arrangements, and are both entitled and obligated to vote in elections. They are adults in respect to all societal regulations, except in respect of their entitlement to full and fair minimum award wages.

"It is both false and discriminatory to assume that all workers under 21 are automatically of less value than older workers, and should therefore receive less pay. One of the problems with this Bill is that it fails to recognise that Australia's youth are at the cutting edge in many fields - especially in Information Technology. If you look at who is the driving force behind IT it is young people. They are the programmers and designers, the Web makers and the data entry operators.

"So if this Bill is passed, it will effectively mean that these individuals, the young men and women leading the field in IT, could be subject to lower wages than their less qualified colleagues. It will mean that intellectual property will be judged not or merit, nor on experience, but instead on the age of the employee in question.

"Instead of waiting for the Industrial Relations Commission to finalise its report, the Government is proceeding without any care or respect for due process, and they are marginalising young people along the way," Senator Lundy said.

015/99. Contact: Simon Tatz 0n 02-62773334 or 0418 488295