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Beazley undermining authority of AIRC.

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Hon Kevin Andrews MP

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service 17 July, 2006

Media Release


Beazley Undermining Authority of AIRC

Recent statements by Kim Beazley have served to seriously undermine the authority of the Australian Industrial

Relations Commission (AIRC).

He has now twice supported unlawful industrial action, contrary to orders of the AIRC:

z last week he encouraged members of the MUA to take strike action in relation to the Stolt shipping matter

in Hobart (AAP 13/7/06). However, on Monday the AIRC had ruled the industrial action unlawful and

ordered a return to work; and z the previous week, he declared the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner should not have

taken action on a Perth construction site to prosecute members of the CFMEU for taking unlawful

industrial action in breach of an AIRC order that the CFMEU members return to work.

At a time when industrial disputes in Australia are at an all time low*, his support for unlawful industrial action

represents a serious threat to the economy. (*see attached ABS table)

In the ten years since the Howard Government’s introduction of the Workplace Relations Act the number of

working days lost per thousand employees has averaged 10.4 days a year, compared with 24.0 days lost in the ten

years to March 1996 under Labor.

Yet in his desire to re-create an environment of industrial unrest to boost Labor’s campaign of fear against

ongoing workplace reform, Kim Beazley is now prepared to undermine the authority of the AIRC.

Given his previous statement, “We think the IRC is the body which, for a century, has been seen by the

Australian people as the fair umpire,” (Doorstop, 22/11/05), his attack on its authority represents cheap-jack

political opportunism at its worst.

The AIRC has existed for over one hundred years as the independent statutory body charged with the

responsibility of settling workplace disputes. Its effectiveness is undermined when parties ignore its

recommendations, directions and orders, let alone when such defiance is encouraged by someone who seeks to

be a future leader of Australia.

While it might be in Kim Beazley’s self-interest, kow-towing to militant unions is not in the national interest.

This weak Labor leader is threatening to take Australia back down a dangerous path - a path leading to increased

industrial disputes, which will damage the economy and destroy jobs.

Chart: Working days lost to industrial disputes, year to March quarter 1986-2006

Source: ABS (2006) Industrial Disputes, Australia, March, Electronic Delivery, Cat No 6321.0.55.001.

For further information contact:

Brad Burke 0421 586 478