The welfare changes will be debated the week after next, with the workplace and terror laws coming this week. The welfare changes are dishonestly labelled as a ‘welfare to work’ package, even though what it will mean for over one hundred thousand people (according to the government’s own figures) is ‘welfare to (more poorly paid) welfare’. This is reminiscent of the dishonest title of the ‘work choices’ package, which actually reduces the choices available to many workers.
While debate on the workplace relations changes is starting on Monday, there is still some uncertainty about what the final shape of the law will be. Although the government members of the Senate Committee inquiry suggested a few minor amendments, they also said they would support the legislation without them. However, there is ongoing speculation that the Queensland National Party Senator will insist on some other changes. (In reality, this will just means Barnaby Joyce, as over 20 years of history shows that the chance of Ron Boswell crossing the floor when his vote counts is zero.)
Obviously any improvement is welcome, but the bottom line if that the laws remove choice from many workers and are specifically written with an aim to drive down wages at the lower end, empower employers and to shaft the unions. Amendments will just reduce the severity of those changes, it won’t remove them.
I am sure there will be some minor amendments made, but the main impact of these will be as a propaganda tool for the government to pretend it is taking on board community concerns, rather than genuinely fixing up some of the major injustices in the Bill.
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