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Questionable Coalition IR campaign claims.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Murray Democrats Senator for Western Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Workplace Relations Australian Democrats spokesperson for Taxation, Finance & Corporate Affairs

Dated: 12 July 2005

Press Release Number: 05/363 Portfolio: Workplace Relations

Related: Taxation, Finance & Corporate Affairs

More from Senator Andrew Murray on Workplace Relations More from on Taxation, Finance & Corporate Affairs

Questionable Coalition IR Campaign Claims

The Coalition has loudly claimed the privately-funded union campaign on the Coalition's radical industrial relations proposals is misleading, but the Liberal and National parties are guilty of using taxpayers public funds to put forward highly questionable claims, the Australian Democrats said today.

In their full page advertisements this past weekend, the Government draws a comparison with their 1996 proposals, and say the strong concerns expressed were unfounded and that "Australians clearly benefited with more jobs, higher wages and a stronger economy".

Democrats Workplace Relations spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray said the 1996 reforms worked because of the intervention of the Democrats. "Our 176 amendments ripped the ideology out of that 1996 package, and made the law socially acceptable while keeping it economically effective. We have continued that role over 9 years, passing sensible law changes, often after moderating original aggressive proposals."

"The protection provided by the Democrats to working men and women and to fair-minded employers from 1996 has now gone. Under Coalition Senate control, old prejudices and ideologies will be imposed with these radical reforms. The Coalition advertisements claim their radical changes to the Workplace Relations Act will deliver stronger economic outcomes. Where is the evidence? They are putting at risk our strong economy and our Australian 'fair-go' society.

"The Coalition claim credit for 14.7% real wage increases for Australian workers since 1996, but much of that was delivered by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission through the annual national wage case and other decisions. Now their Orwellian-named Fair Pay (low-pay!) Commission will replace the soon-to-be-gutted AIRC."

Senator Murray said if the Coalition is fair dinkum about fair pay they should start maintaining real value by indexing the minimum wage to CPI, and indexing the tax-free threshold.

"The Coalition say there are new safeguards for wages and conditions. How is that so when they are removing safeguards? They say workers will be safeguarded with a modern award system - not if the present federal system is gutted. They say they will protect workers against unlawful dismissal, as if that is something new - workers are already protected from unlawful dismissal; they are taking away unfair dismissal protection.

"They propose a national unitary system, but where is the national regulator to accompany it? What we are getting is close to a laissez-faire employers system with a weak AIRC and no independent regulator."