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National interest or IR ideology: Coalition has to choose.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Murray Democrats Senator for Western Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Workplace Relations

Dated: 27 June 2005

Press Release Number: 05/344 Portfolio: Workplace Relations

More from Senator Andrew Murray on Workplace Relations

National Interest or IR Ideology Coalition has to Choose

With the strong likelihood that some Coalition Senators will oppose a single unitary industrial relations system, the Democrats say the Coalition will have to choose between the national interest and ideology.

The Prime Minister has proposed two major industrial relations changes. He wants to radically alter the federal system, and he wants the federal system to take over the state systems, said Australian Democrats Workplace Relations spokesperson Senator Andrew Murray.

The first is ideologically driven, the second, the creation of a unitary system, is in the national interest. Those two are not compatible or reconcilable."

Senator Murray said some Coalition Senators look likely to oppose a single unitary industrial relations system but to support the radical changes to the federal system. "That means one or the other will fail to pass the Senate."

So what will Mr Howard choose? The national interest or ideology? The Democrats have the numbers to deliver a unitary system, which we have long supported, but we strongly oppose radical change to the federal system," Senator Murray said.

"Ideological reforms are just that, ideology, and will hurt the average worker. A unitary system will bring efficiency and costs savings to the system and employers."

"Most of the other proposed reforms go too far and will tip the balance of workplace relations too far in favour of employers, leaving many workers vulnerable."

Senator Murray said it must be remembered that the 1996 reforms worked well only because the Democrats negotiated 176 amendments to restore a fairer balance.

"The Democrats negotiated IR reforms contributed to significant productivity increases, real wage increases, GDP growth, low industrial disputation, and a flexible economy so why radically alter it?

"The single national IR system should be the ultimate goal. The Democrats would consider negotiating a single industrial system with some modest improvements to the federal system, but oppose the Governments

radical federal agenda. We offer the Prime Minister the chance to choose the national interest over ideology."