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Workplace reforms critical to national interest: Vaile.



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The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP MINISTER FOR TRADE, AUSTRALIA

Sunday, 9 October 2005

WORKPLACE REFORMS CRITICAL TO NATIONAL INTEREST - VAILE

Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals, Mark Vaile has welcomed the detail of the new workplace relations system (WorkChoices) announced by the Prime Minister, John Howard and Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews today.

“The Governments workplace reforms are of critical importance to Australia’s national interest - they will enable Australia to maintain the strong economy and living standards we have enjoyed over the past nine years. We cannot afford to stand still,” Mr Vaile said.

“A new corporation’s power based workplace relations system will allow fundamental and much needed reform to ensure more jobs, higher wages and a stronger economy”.

“The corporation’s power provides the basis for a simplified framework and will deliver a much needed cultural change to the practice of workplace relations,” he said.

The Government’s planned changes will free up the system to make it easier for employers and employees alike, while maintaining the principle of a fair go for all Australians.

WorkChoices will protect certain award conditions when new workplace agreements are negotiated. These award conditions are: public holidays, rest breaks (including meal breaks), incentive based payments and bonuses, annual leave loadings, allowances, penalty rates and

shift/overtime loadings.

“Our workplace relations reforms will create jobs for the most marginal people in the workforce - young people, the disabled, and people entering the workforce for the first time.

“In relation to the changes in the unfair dismissal laws employer after employer has told us that they would employ more staff - but they can’t afford the cost of an unfair dismissal claim if their new employees don’t work out.

That’s why we are going to exempt businesses with up to and including 100 employees from the unfair dismissal laws. But all employees, regardless of size of the business in which they work, will be protected from unlawful termination which prohibits dismissal on discriminatory grounds, such as their race, sex, religion, politics or membership or non-membership of a union and refusing to negotiate or sign an AWA.

“I welcome the the transitional period of five years for unicorporated farm businesses. This will allow farmers to put in place arrangements that respond to their particular circumstances.

Importantly the workplace reforms announced today will ensure that regional and rural Australia remains competitive in a changing global economy.

Contact: Richard Forbes 02 6277 7420 or 0418 273 475

Bill McKinley

Communications Adviser Office of the Hon Mark Vaile MP Deputy Prime Minister Leader of The Nationals Minister for Trade

Tel: 02 6277 7420 Fax: 02 6273 4128