No Entry

The Australian newspaper has reported more detail on Labor’s workplace relations policies, including another major piece of backsliding with the adoption of John Howard’s Workchoices constraints on workplace entry by union officials:

“A Rudd government would keep all of John Howard’s tough limits on unions entering worksites.”

The new strict controls on workplace entry have been a key target in the rhetoric from Labor and the unions since Workchoices became law. I heard it mentioned a number of times by Labor candidates and unionists in audiences at two recent Your Rights at Work forums I’ve attended in Brisbane and Ipswich.

As I’ve mentioned before, it really annoys me how parties can be vehemently against something one minute, ferociously bagging out people who voice any form of support for it – and the next minute they’re adopting that same thing as policy. I know if I’d ever voted in the Senate for the sorts of workplace entry rules (or for the unfair dismissal exemptions or secret ballot for strikes provisions) that are now Labor policy, the flamethrowers of abuse and howls of outrage would be being thrown at me at every opportunity in the lead-up to this election.

However, such is politics I suppose. It is all none the less a reminder of how important the Senate choice at this election will be. Even if Kevin Rudd is elected, he won’t have control of the Senate, and depending on the attitude of the Coalition in such a situation, the final decision on amendments to workplace laws will be left up to smaller parties, including myself if I get re-elected.

My record, and that of the Democrats more broadly, shows I won’t always adopt the union/Labor line, or the Coalition/business line. But if Labor’s line suddenly shifts all the way over to the Coalition line, as it appears to be doing on key aspects of workplace law, I’m not going to automatically agree to a package of amendments to the law which contain some of those elements.

There may be a case for some modification to the workplace entry laws as they stood prior to Workchoices, but I haven’t seen a credible case put as to why we should stay with the quite extreme restrictions that are currently in the law and I’d be reluctant to support any law changes that retained them.

If you want an idea of the principles I’ll be using to guide my assessment of any proposed workplace law changes, click on this link.

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10 Comments

  1. This latest announcement by the Labor party is perhaps the most damning evidence to date that Kevin Rudd is simply a younger version of John Howard.

    The biggest issue I have with the Labor party is their inconsistency. You just don’t know how they’re going to approach things and that scares the living daylights out of me.

  2. I was actually quite surprised at this backflip. I don’t think it was necessary either, as an effort to appease “big business” – maybe some of it, like the secondary boycotts stuff, but not this whole package, surely. I guess this just highlights the challenge to the Democrats to let people know that the Democrat policy (and record) on IR is way better than the pile of crap the majors are serving up.

  3. Rudd is consistent,a sense of permeating his sense of power before others in the ALP hierarchy is what he is about.If you are a worker,only allow your brain the rightful place it has to others in the workplace and, the doing it for you gang lead by Rudd.When I worked for Mobil Oil in the seventies ,kids would show up to meet the staff at the end of the day,I dont know wether Australian companies are frightened of kids too.Work must be secret workers and bosses business now.Perhaps they have a cone of silence to go along with the shoe phones today.

  4. I find it ludicrous to see Howard trying to paint Rudd as a captive of the unions. He’s not offering anywhere near what they want.

    I can only assume that they realise that the offers just a slightly bit better chance of better policies than Howard.

  5. But Muzz, the only reason Rudd is running so far away from the unions and so far from balance or common sense, is because he’s afraid of the Government’s fairy tales about the Big Bad Unionists pulling his strings.

  6. I really don’t think you have very much to be concerned about, Andrew. Remember, swings and roundabouts? Remember the legislation the Howardians wanted to shovel through in their first five years? Remember the bloody-minded response Labor gave them?

    On the ethical side of the issue though, I don’t expect you or any other Senator to review legislation in any other manner than to assess it’s benefit to society as a whole. The Senate is NOT a place for party politics in my view, but sadly, it seems to have become so.

  7. Rudd’s backsliding may be a necessary evil designed to pick up more of John Howard’s share of the votes. Not a bad ploy.

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