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Partial transcript of doorstop interview of the Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure, and Industrial Relations: Kirribilli, Sydney: Peter Costello's comments on unfair dismissal, industrial relations reform.



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M E D I A R E L E A S E

Stephen Smith MP Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations Member for Perth

E&OE T 73/05

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP - KIRRIBILLI, SYDNEY, 26 JULY 2005

SUBJECT: PETER COSTELLO’S COMMENTS ON UNFAIR DISMISSAL, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS REFORM

SMITH: We see Peter Costello out there telling us he’s in favour of abolishing the unfair dismissal laws entirely, of doing the unfair dismissal laws in altogether.

As we know, the Government has announced it is proposing to abolish the unfair dismissal laws for businesses with up to 100 employees. That’s nearly 4 million Australian employees; it’s 98 per cent of Australian workplaces, and 99 per cent of Australian private employers covered by the Government’s decision to date.

But Peter Costello’s let the cat out of the bag. He has confirmed publicly what we suspected privately - that the Government contemplated abolishing the laws entirely. If Peter Costello had had his way, if Peter Costello becomes Prime Minister, then all of Australia’s 10 million employees will turn up for work each day not knowing whether during the course of that day they can get sacked, sacked unfairly without remedy.

There are two points to make. Firstly, Peter Costello makes the point there is no magic in the number 100. And in some respects he’s right. There’s no magic in the number 20. There’s no magic in the number 50. There’s no magic in the number 100.

But what they’re proposing under the Government’s current position is to proceed on the basis that if you’re the 101st employee on the job, you have to be treated fairly. But if you’re the 99th employee on the job you can be treated unfairly, without any remedy. Just as in the Government’s previous proposal, if you are the 21st employee on the job,

you have to be treated fairly but if you are the 19th on the job, you can be treated unfairly, without any remedy.

The second point, of course, is that this is the second occasion in less than a week where Peter Costello is out there with a different policy position from the Prime Minister. We saw at the end of last week, the Treasurer suggesting a single national regulator for States’ ports - a proposition which John Howard denied to the State Premiers at the last

COAG meeting he was pursuing, on the contrary.

And today, we see a difference between the Prime Minister and the Treasurer on the unfair dismissal proposals, underlining the fact that the leadership tensions between the PM and the Treasurer is now affecting and infiltrating policy decisions across the board so far as the Government is concerned.

ENDS

Contact: Ashley Wells on (02) 6277 4108 or 0402 286 680