Thursday 2nd of July 2020

workchoices mark III


Unions and Labor both reacted cautiously to the news, with Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus saying unions would participate in the meetings. 

"Australian unions want to see a better, stronger and fairer Australia and that's why we will take up the opportunity to sit down with employers and with the Government to discuss that," she said.

Labor deputy leader Richard Marles hearkened back to the bitter backlash against the WorkChoices laws that were introduced under John Howard in the mid-2000s

"The idea that a Liberal government is about to engage in industrial relations reform will send a chill down the spine of every Australian worker," he said.

The other "JobMaking" area the Prime Minister detailed was in the skills and training sector.

Skills sector set for overhaul

Mr Morrison said he wanted to see a much simpler skills education and training sector, saying it varied widely across Australia.

He said funding agreements with the states and territories, which currently see the Federal Government hand over $1.5 billion per year without oversight, needed to change.

"The current national agreement for skills and workforce development between the states and the Commonwealth is fundamentally flawed and it has to change," he said.


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Yes we remember Johnny's PorkChoices, which was a way to pay less for those unable to negotiate better or equivalent conditions and wages.... Yes, as we all know (we should all), the CONservatives have decimated the TAFE colleges and often given the gigs to "private colleges" with many bad results. Some of these colleges going bust, the moneys siphoned away and the students getting nothing... Such a skilling program has to stay in public hands, through the States. As well, ScoMo wants to see a much simpler skills education and training sector — which translate as "cheaper", not better... Some States have different requirements by necessity of local demands. For example in Perth, WA, water is supplied from desal plants. In Sydney, water is mostly collected in dams. Cultivating wheat in WA is not the same as in NSW... Mechanics, plumbers, electricians are already on par re regulations, though in various States, the supply of electricity has different mix...

dead, buried, cremated... revived...







All this from about 15 years ago...

fond memories...

hawke and whitlam

As your prime minister, Scott Morrison, wants a new "wage accord", with nurses and hospital staff having been informed of a wage freeze no matter what, and executive bonuses going through the roof while MPs get their entitlements adjusted to higher skies, we can fondly remember the times when Bob and Gough chewed the fat about 45 years ago.



on winston�s footsteps


work ethics


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reviving ghosts...

The Tryst in Manuka was a cosy Canberra eating place.

So cosy, in fact, that when then-treasurer Peter Costello arrived to join a couple of journos for dinner, he pulled the peak of his Essendon Bombers cap over his eyes to ensure the bloke in the corner didn't recognise him.

As Costello sat down at our table, he explained he'd spotted Laurie Oakes, Nine's veteran political editor, and didn't particularly fancy being grilled by the fearless Press Gallery legend.

It was a Thursday. May 3, 2007, to be precise.

And it was a funny place to be blindsided by an epic Liberal backdown that's haunted the Coalition ever since.

Costello was five days from delivering his 12th — and last — federal budget and he was in the mood to talk about anything but numbers or politics.

But politics interrupted, as it does in Canberra. My mobile phone rang.

It was David Luff, John Howard's press secretary. 

"G'day mate, I've got the boss with me," Luff said. "He's making a little announcement tomorrow and wants you to know about it for tomorrow's newspaper."

A treasurer blindsided by the PM

Excusing myself from the table, I ducked outside, leaving Costello and my colleague Shane Wright, an unreformed Collingwood fan, to squabble over the 1990 grand final or some such.

Howard explained that the government, the next morning, would be announcing the reintroduction of a fairness test to the WorkChoices industrial relations regime.

This was a big deal, given the testy argument with the ACTU and the ALP at the time over the hardline piece of legislation that had become a dead weight in the Coalition's saddlebags.

The PM outlined what he'd be announcing and insisted the changes were designed to correct an unintended consequence of his government's IR laws.

t was, in fact, a sizeable retreat on one of the harshest aspects of WorkChoices. Howard's abolition of the "no disadvantage" test meant workers placed on Australian Workplace Agreements could be made worse off.

After hastily filing the splash for The West Australian's Friday edition, I returned to the restaurant. Costello made his intrigue obvious.

"That was the Prime Minister?" he asked.


"What did he say?" Costello inquired casually, attempting to disguise his intense interest.

"Well, as I'm sure you'll be aware, he'll be announcing a new fairness test from midnight Sunday, kicking in at $75,000," I said.

"Aaah, yes there was some mention of that … but don't test me on the detail."

Rarely, if ever, does a politician push a journalist for information, but here was Costello, the Liberal deputy, doing just that.

He clearly knew little — if anything — of Howard's backdown, perhaps due to the distraction of engineering an improbable government-rescuing budget.

Costello, the man who'd made a lawyerly name for himself as barrister in the influential 1985 Dollar Sweets industrial relations case, was blindsided by Howard's about-face on workplace reform.

He, like everyone else in the Coalition, was in the white-knuckle ride towards a bloody showdown with Labor's Kevin Rudd, whose dastardly successful strategic secret was to offer the comfort of Howard, but not be Howard.

Which is ironic, given Howard was attempting be a little less like Howard in his final year as PM, embracing an emissions trading scheme in late 2006 and then shaving off one of the pricklier aspects of WorkChoices, albeit reluctantly.

The poisoned well of IR

Scott Morrison was about to start university when the Dollar Sweets case was fought — and won — by Costello in the Victorian Supreme Court.

Morrison wasn't in federal politics when WorkChoices was conceived or implemented by the Coalition.

He wasn't in cabinet when John Howard complained bitterly about the ACTU's devastatingly effective ads decrying WorkChoices.

Nor was Morrison there to hear workplace relations minister Joe Hockey, newly promoted to cabinet, telling Howard that the ACTU ads had some truth to them.

WorkChoices poisoned the well for the coalition on IR.

No-one in the Liberal Party has dared drink from it for 13 years, lest it kill them.

The fact Morrison wasn't there when WorkChoices ravaged a tired Coalition government doesn't mean he's unaware of the dangers ahead.

But without the scars of WorkChoices, Morrison's been more open to seeing the opportunities provided by the pandemic, even if his approach displays a necessary caution.

The Prime Minister is positioning himself as the pragmatist who stands aloof from his party's old IR ideologues. This is an exercise in tactical self-description.

His emphasis on reaching consensus between unions and business groups is a lesson learnt through the National Cabinet process that has seen political leaders of both stripes coordinate their response to COVID-19.

Consensus defuses political argument. On IR, given its vitriolic past, this will be vital.

Morrison's make-peace criticism shrewdly apportions blame equally.

"Our industrial relations system has settled into a complacency of unions seeking marginal benefits and employers closing down risks, often by simply not employing anyone," he told the National Press Club.

"It is a system that has to date retreated to tribalism, conflict and ideological posturing."

'Best friends for now'

If a compact between the ACTU, industry and employers can be reached, Morrison's ambition will be realised if lots of jobs are created as a result.

Not that the PM has spelled out what changes he wants to see in IR. This is intentional. Being prescriptive would puncture the pursuit of consensus.


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Many workers are on"contracts"... working for private companies doing the jobs for the public sectors... This has been the new system in which "workers unite" are workers working for themselves forgetting their hard-earned conditions were acquired through unions...



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From the Saturday Paper... Read from top

a horsey gift...



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