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Bracks: a vision for continuing chaos.

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Media Release


Bracks: A Vision For Continuing Chaos

Today’s workplace relations proposal announced by Premier Bracks proves he is a sheep in sheep’s clothing when it comes to addressing the industrial issues that beset Victoria.

The so-called initiatives will do nothing to address the key issues facing employers and employees in the Victorian workplace - if anything they will only exacerbate current problems by pandering to militant unions.

Mr Bracks says a Labor Government will "take action to prevent the most damaging industrial disputes" yet his Government refuses to support the Building Industry Taskforce.

In fact his solution to the chronic problems facing this $9.5 billion sector of the Victorian economy is to have an "image" makeover of the industry via committees.

Getting Martin Kingham to shave his beard and dress in a suit will not address the industrial problems and the intimidation of employees and employers that besets the industry.

Thuggery, intimidation, lawlessness and unacceptable levels of industrial action will continue regardless of how it is dressed unless the Bracks Government is prepared to stand up to militant unions.

Victoria loses 421 working days per thousand employees in the building and construction sector compared with 275 nationally (34% higher) - yet all Mr Bracks can offer is an image makeover. That is just not good enough.

Even more disturbing is that the Bracks Government is going to pay militant unions even more money to conduct these assaults by sponsoring initiatives to "improve industrial relations capacities."

The State government already gives the union movement $3 million for so called union training - a revolving slush fund whereby unions donate to the ALP and then get tax payers money in return.

Now Mr Bracks wants to extend this rort. If the $500 million union movement wants to train delegates that is up to them, it should not be at the expense of taxpayers so that the ALP can line their pockets with union donations.

Further Mr Bracks wants his government to directly engage new and smaller investors with industrial relations issues in the construction and manufacturing sector.

The last time Mr Bracks did this was with the $400 million Saizeriya project when his own chief of staff became involved.

Saizeriya has now shelved the rest of its investment and is taking legal proceedings against the industrial relations consultant recommended by the Bracks government to the company to resolve its industrial issues.

Yet this is the very same consultative model that Mr Bracks is now holding out to other investors.

What a fiasco.

Even where Mr Bracks has tried to give the impression of more substantive action he appears to be contradictory and in conflict with his federal colleagues.

His proposal to seek powers for his government to intervene in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in industrial disputes is contradictory in the face of Mr Bracks’ government’s support for a unitary national system.

Following the passage of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Improved Protection for Victorian Workers) Act 2003, Rob Hulls, Victoria’s Minister for Industrial Relations, wrote to me and said:

"Implementation of this initiative by our respective governments will now lay the basis for a national, unitary system of industrial relations in Victoria. That is, Victoria will be the only State which has fully embraced this initiative and established a unitary system."

Devolving this authority would be the first step in creating another tier of industrial relations. Mr Bracks would appear to be contradicting his own Minister.

Coupled with this when the Federal Government introduced the Better Bargaining Bill which would have allowed third parties affected by an industrial dispute to appear before the AIRC the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party voted against it.

Why should a state government be able to intervene if parties directly affected cannot?

This proposal is an ill thought out, ill defined idea which could defeat the purpose of an effective unitary federal system whereby disputes are settled by parties directly involved.

For further information contact:

Ian Hanke 0409 715 861