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June 20, 2006

Australian House of Representatives moves to affirm support for heterosexual marriage

Australian House of Representatives moves to affirm support for heterosexual marriage

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Australian House of Representatives

The Australian House of Representatives yesterday discussed as part of private Member’s business a motion moved by Michael Johnson (Australian Liberal Party, Division of Ryan) that sought to affirm and “celebrate” support for marriage “between a man and a woman” and called on the Government to “enact policies that promote and strengthen marriage”.

Speeches

Johnson discussed the earlier amendment to the Australian Marriage Act passed in 2004 that effectively removed the possibility for same-sex marriage, and continued that the failed efforts of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to provide for civil unions within that state was a matter for “grave alarm”. Johnson then argued against same-sex marriage saying that “Children come from marriage and families stem from marriage”. Johnson criticized the earlier ACT legislation that provided for the dissolution of civil unions by letter to the ACT registrar, stating, “Marriage is a lifelong commitment”. However, Johnson went on to discuss the breakdown of marriage and the status of single parents to argue, “surely we all agree that the best environment for the rearing of children is one that has both a mother and a father”.

Chris Hayes (Australian Labor Party, Division of Werriwa), took a different stance in speaking to the motion, by discussing how the Government’s new industrial relation legislation, WorkChoices, would affect the balancing of work and family life, and called for industrial legislation that would “support families into the future”.

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Same-sex marriage in Australia

Margaret May (Liberal, Division of McPherson), the seconder of the motion, recommenced arguing against same-sex marriage, calling it a “social experiment”, and went on to state, “Same sex relationships, or, indeed, unions should not have the same status as a marriage between a man and a woman”. May concluded her speech by calling for support to “services to assist children, young people and adults and to continue sustaining safe, supportive and nurturing family relationships”.

John Murphy (Labor, Division of Lowe) also affirmed support for heterosexual marriage, by stating, “Marriage is a natural bond between man and woman, recognized in the vast majority of cultures, whether Christian or otherwise”, and added, “nature ordains the natural procreative function of man and woman”. Murphy also addressed the amendments to the Marriage Act, saying, “this definition is the only valid recognition of our civil laws, which correctly reflects the natural law and moral law”, adding, “You do not even have to believe in anything to draw that conclusion.” Murphy however stated in conclusion of his speech, “we are all let down by those who … mask their support for marriage and who employ it as a weapon to attack the many other relationships in our society. Such attacks are unconscionable, unnecessary and unjustified.”

Michael Ferguson (Liberal, Division of Bass) reiterated points raised by those before him, but also mentioned the issue of discrimination, saying, “there is different treatment under the law for different relationships. But this is not about dicscrimination against the indivdual and it is not designed to be.” Ferguson continued to say, “As individual people, homosexual men and women have exactly the same legal rights as you or I”.

Craig Emerson (Labor, Division of Rankin) quoted a House Committee report To have and to hold — strategies to strengthen marriage and relationships, saying that the report was bipartisan and added, “the issue of marriage does enjoy bipartisan support in this parliament”, and reiterated Labor’s support for the Marriage Amendment, which excluded the possibility for same-sex marriage. Emerson concluded his remarks by again tying the impact of the WorkChoices to family life.

Further debate

No other members of parliament spoke against or criticised the motion before debate was interrupted.

Interestingly, the Australian Senate is yet to debate a motion moved by the Australian Democrats in order to repeal the Marriage Amendment discussed and institute same-sex marriage. The Australian Greens are also supportive of same-sex marriage, but neither of these parties hold seats in the House.



Related news

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Same-sex marriage in Australia

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  • Australian House of Representatives. “Hansard” —  June 19, 2006
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June 14, 2006

Beazley gaining office would threaten Australia\’s economy: Treasurer

Beazley gaining office would threaten Australia’s economy: Treasurer

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Kim Beazley

Australian treasurer, Peter Costello (Higgins, Liberal) told parliament on Tuesday that the greatest threat to Australia’s economy would be for opposition leader Kim Beazley (Brand, Labor) to gain office.

Mr Costello said that the Australian economy would suffer with Mr Beazley at the helm. “The greatest threat to the Australian economy domestically… would be the election of the Leader of the Opposition,” said the treasurer.

“I can think of nothing that could be worse for the Australian economy than Kim Beazley being in a position of influence.”

Mr Costello told the House of Representatives that despite unemployment dropping below five percent last week, Mr Beazley made no comment on the matter. Mr Costello referred to a statement made about the oppositon leader in The Australian newspaper, which said “Beazley is the leaf blower of Australian politics—lots of noise but all that comes out is hot air.”

The treasurer went on to say that Mr Beazley is “not an economic four-cylinder leaf blower,”

“He is a V8 turbocharged double-exhaust leaf blower. There is no end to the leaf blowing and the hot air that comes out as a consequence.”

Mr Costello said Labor’s proposed changes to the government’s controversial industrial relations laws (known as Workchoices) would harm the economy. Costello defended his government’s IR reforms saying that countries around the world were moving to make their labour markets more flexible.

The treasurer warned that Labor’s proposed changes would return industrial relations in Australia to the 20th and 19th centuries.

Related Wikinews

Australian opposition promises to scrap workplace agreements” — Wikinews, June 11, 2006

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June 11, 2006

Australian opposition promises to scrap workplace agreements

Australian opposition promises to scrap workplace agreements

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Kim Beazley, Australian opposition leader

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian industrial relations legislation, 2005

Kim Beazley leader of the Australian opposition has promised to scrap workplace agreements introduced as part of the Howard government’s controversial Workchoices industrial relations reforms.

Speaking at the New South Wales Australian Labor Party today, Mr Beazley promised that a government under his leadership would create “a land of decency and fairness”. Mr Beazley said such a plan has no place for individual Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA).

“I believe AWAs are nothing more than a means to cut wages, cut conditions, undermine decency and fairness in our workplaces,” he said.

“So today delegates I announce that a Beazley Labor government will abolish John Howard’s Australian Workplace Agreements.”

The opposition leader told his party faithful that AWAs can not be fixed. “I know AWAs can’t be fixed, they can’t be made good, they must be rejected,” said Mr Beazley.

Mr Beazley said a government under his leadership would reward hard work and effort.

“The government I lead will be guided by one core principle – when you put in, you get back,” he said.

“That’s my pact with middle Australia. When Australian workers put in a good day’s work they’ll get job security, decent wages, decent conditions, decent protections against unfair dismissal.”

The announcement comes as the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) launches its multi-million dollar advertisement campaign against the government’s changes. The unions say their ads portray the stories of real Australians who have been affected by the government’s industrial relations reforms.

ACTU leader Greg Combet welcomed Mr Beazley’s proposal, saying they were beneficial for both the ALP and the nation as a whole.

“It means that there is a clear choice between the Liberal-National government and the Labor Party on these industrial relations issues at the next election,” he said.

“More important than policy commitments, what Mr Beazley is clearly articulating are labour movement values: fairness, decency, respect for people, dignity in their workplace, the right to be represented, sharing in the economic wealth.

“These are all extremely important values that he is articulating and I think it is those values that are going to put Labor in good stead.”

Mr Combet said that the ALP state conference in NSW showed the amount of support Mr Beazley has within his party, despite recent party in-fighting, leadership speculation and attempts by the government to undermine Mr Beazley’s leadership.

Australian Prime Minister, John Howard accused Mr Beazley of giving in to union pressure. “It is clear from Mr Beazley’s AWA rollback plan that the Labor Party will do whatever it takes to make the unions happy, even if it is at the expense of Australian workers,” he said.

Mr Howard accused Mr Beazley of planning a return to an industrial relations system that left one million Australians without work. Mr Howard also said that Mr Beazley has promised to eliminate AWAs but has failed to put forward a replacement. “Mr Beazley today proposed that Labor would abandon AWAs but did not outline any replacement for the existing arrangements,” said Mr Howard.

In a statement, Mr Howard said that Mr Beazley had no plan to ensure the continued growth of the Australian economy and accused Mr Beazley and his party of failing to “take advantage of an increasingly competitive global marketplace”.

Defending his government’s legislation that allows AWAs, Mr Howard said that AWAs give negotiating power to workers. “AWAs now play an integral role in the nation’s workplace relations culture, with almost one million Australian workers since 1996 enjoying the benefits of making workplace agreements on their terms, ” he said

The Prime Minister also dismissed any claims that AWAs have reduced wages and satisfaction of employees. “AWAs have delivered higher wages, greater productivity and enhanced satisfaction for employees, ” he said.

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June 1, 2006

Australian House of Representatives has \”no rules\”: Gillard

Australian House of Representatives has “no rules”: Gillard

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Thursday, June 1, 2006

The Australian House of Representatives descended into rows between opposition and government members today

The Australian Labor Party has accused speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, David Hawker (Liberal, Wannon) of failing to be impartial.

During question time today, opposition leader, Kim Beazley (Labor, Brand) asked the government to confirm comments made by Cameron Thompson (Liberal, Blair), which asked for Prime Minister John Howard (Liberal, Bennelong) to explain his role in the failed merger of the Nationals and Liberals in Queensland. According to Mr Beazley, Mr Thompson claims that the president of the Liberal party in Queensland was appointed by Mr Howard and that his actions would have been known and agreed upon by the Prime Minister.

The house’s speaker refused to allow Mr Beazley to debate his question claiming it was not relevant. Mr Beazley argued that his question directly related to Mr Howard in his capacity as Prime Minister and to disallow his question was “shutting down accountability”.

The opposition’s next woe came when Stephen Smith (Labor, Perth) asked the Prime Minister to confirm accusations that the government’s new industrial relations laws (called Workchoices) had placed pressure on the low pay commission to lower the minimum wage of Australian workers. Mr Howard took the opportunity to attack Mr Beazley’s role as Minister for Employment, Education and Training in 1993 saying that he had contempt for the unemployed.

Anthony Albanese (Labor, Grayndler) raised a point of order, claiming that the Prime Minister’s answer was irrelevant. This was refused by the speaker, who said that Mr Howard was attempting to answer a “lengthy question”. Mr Albanese then interrupted Mr Howard as he was continuing his attack on Mr Beazley telling the speaker that the question was very specific and that Mr Howard’s answer was irrelevant. Mr Albanese was ordered to resume his seat, and when he failed to do so was ordered out of the house.

Following Mr Albanese’s ejection, Mr Smith argued that the Prime Minister was not answering his question before also being ordered out of the house by the speaker. As Mr Howard began to continue his answer, Julia Irwin (Labor, Fowler) interrupted Mr Howard. Mrs Irwin was then ordered to leave the house.

The opposition found itself another member short in the house after Julia Gillard (Labor, Lalor) was removed for calling Health Minister Tony Abbott (Liberal, Warringah) an “idiot”. Ms Gillard’s comment followed Mr Abbott tabling a document written by Medibank Private relating to a media campaign to counter negative views on its sale. Part of the document claimed that Medibank Private had “established a hypothetical but possible scenario: Julia Gillard arguing that the sale will mean higher premiums”.

Mr Abbott joked that “Medibank Private sure know the member for Lalor (Julia Gillard)”.

It was Ms Gillard’s second ejection in two days. She was removed from the house yesterday for calling Mr Abbott a “snivelling grub”, the same term Mr Abbott labeled an opposition MP last week without being removed.

Following the house’s question time, Mr Abbott and Peter Costello (Liberal, Higgins) accused Lindsay Tanner (Labor, Melbourne), Wayne Swan (Labor, Lilley) and Kim Wilkey (Labor, Swan) of deliberately blocking a camera’s view of Mr Howard during one of his answers. Mr Tanner said “It’s not our fault he’s short” and Mr Wilkie said that he never raised from his chair and that Mr Abbott needed to “get his facts straight”.

Following her removal, Ms Gillard told reporters that speaker of the house, Mr Hawker had double standards. “We’ve reached a stage … where there are no rules in the House of Representatives,” Ms Gillard said.

“Four Opposition members were tossed out of Parliament today. I don’t think anybody watching question time could say that’s a fair result.”

“We’ve seen double standards in operation all week” she said.

She said that it was not unusual for people to walk around the chamber and talk to each other during question while government members were speaking.

“At the end of the day there is wandering around and chatter in question time,” she said.

“But why is that? Because the quality of what’s coming off the government front bench doesn’t bear listening to” she said.

Sources

  • Maria Hawthorne, David Crawshaw and Melissa Polimeni. “Gillard thrown out again” — The Daily Telegraph, June 1, 2006
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March 26, 2006

Australia\’s new controversial workplace regulations come into effect this week

Australia’s new controversial workplace regulations come into effect this week

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Australian Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has urged the federal opposition Labor Party to focus on industrial relations (IR) as significant changes come into force from Monday 27th March. The legislation was passed in a row of controversy by parliament in December last year.

The contentious WorkChoices measures aim to move workers onto a federal industrial relations system and increase to the use of individual workplace contracts – under which conditions such as overtime and penalty rates can be set. The new WorkChoices arrangements include scrapping of unfair dismissal rights; the control by Federal government over state-based IR systems; more encouragement of individual contracts; award-cutting of award rates; secret ballots for industrial action and removal of the no-disadvantage test in new contracts.

The union movement has launched a fresh campaign to protest this week’s changes. ACTU secretary Greg Combet warns that some employees will feel the effects as soon as they come into force, because they will no longer be protected by the previous unfair dismissal laws. He says with the changes becoming enforced this week, the Federal opposition party must now concentrate on industrial relations and not on “political infighting”.

Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, says he’s prepared for a union scare-mongering over the IR laws, but assumes the campaign will fail. “I predict the scare campaign will go on,” he said. “I also predict that the scare campaign will fail.” Mr Howard says workers should wait and experience the new system for themselves and that the changes will give workers greater flexibility. “Over time it will be beneficial,” he said.

Greg Combet, Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions

Combet feels different about the effects. “It’s likely, somewhere around Australia tomorrow, someone is going to be sacked unfairly and they’ll be the first victim of the new laws,” he told the ABC. “The really significant thing is that the balance of power in the workplace is shifting sharply to the business community, to the employer.”

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews told reporters last week that “the sky would not fall, because people would go to work next Monday and not detect any difference.” He described union protests as “hysterical outbursts”. “There is nothing in this legislation that people need to worry about in the ordinary course,” he said.

Despite the Howard government’s increased majority in the Senate, the passing of bill has not been smooth. In November last year, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators rallied across the nation to express dissent of the IR legislation. Ex-Finance Minister, Senator Nick Minchin, said most Australians “violently disagree” with the recent IR changes and there was a real prospect that the High Court could overturn the Work Choices laws.

The HR Nicholls Society, described as one of Australia’s most politically conservative organisations, has likened the new federal laws to the former Soviet system of “command and control.” Society president Ray Evans says he does not like the centralised power being handed to the government under the changes, nor its encroachment on states’ rights.

Evans says the myriad of complex new laws would create a system where “so-called IR professionals would stand to make a lot of money sorting through it… every economic decision has to go back to some central authority and get ticked off,” he said . “There is a lot of that sort of attitude in this legislation and I think it is very unfortunate.” Kemalex Plastics owner Richard Colebatch of the HR Nicholls Society said the changes are “very complicated for anybody to decipher… The professionals will spend a lot of money, the employers’ money, working their way through the mire trying to create the new rules people are going to work towards.”

November 05: 150,000 turnout for Protest in Melbourne

But the Prime Minister says “more jobs will be generated in the small business sector as a result of the removal of the absurd job-destroying unfair dismissal laws, and the greater flexibility for people to make workplace agreements at the enterprise level will lift productivity,” he told reporters in Melbourne. “Sure some people will complain, but a lot of people will benefit through getting job opportunities. Young people, who will get an opportunity to put their step on the bottom rung of the ladder for the first time, will benefit enormously.”

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said WorkChoices regulations do not go far enough in clarifying who can legally issue medical certificates for sick leave. AMA vice-president Dr Choong-Siew Yong said WorkChoices regulations meant employers and employees faced uncertainty and confusion over sick leave.

“The regulations fail to acknowledge two very serious failings,” Dr Yong said in a statement. “One, if people are seriously ill, they should be seeing their medical doctor. Two, opening up medical certification to a whole range of non-medical practitioners will make it difficult for employers to take sick leave seriously.”

Related news

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian industrial relations legislation, 2005
  • “Work Choices Fair Pay Chief heavily criticised” — Wikinews, November 15, 2005
  • “Hundreds of thousands rally in Australia against IR legislation” — Wikinews, November 15, 2005
  • “New Australian industrial relations legislation passes House of Representatives” — Wikinews, November 11, 2005
  • “Suspicions of nepotism arise from pulping of new Australian industrial relations information booklets” — Wikinews, November 8, 2005
  • “Australian Government to introduce IR reforms next week” — Wikinews, October 24, 2005

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December 22, 2005

Australian States to launch high court battle against IR reforms

Filed under: Archived,Australia,Oceania,WorkChoices — admin @ 5:00 am

Australian States to launch high court battle against IR reforms

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

High Court entrance

After months of threats from the states to take the federal government of Australia to the High Court of Australia over it’s Work Choices Act, New South Wales has formally lodged a writ with the High Court. Other states have indicated that they will follow the New South Wales government’s lead.

The 30-page Statement of Claim lodged by NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca and Solicitor-General Michael Sexton claims that the Work Choices Act is unconstitutional as the act extends the commonwealth’s powers beyond what the constitution has given them. The Howard government has argued that they have such powers under the corporations provision of the constitution. Mr Della Bosca argues that the corporations provision is there to protect individuals from corporations.

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has more about this subject:
Australian industrial relations legislation

Mr Sexton said “The heart of the Commonwealth legislation is its reliance on the corporations power, and the question is whether that is valid in these circumstances. In other words, whether it’s possible to legislate in effect about industrial relations simply because the employer is a trading or financial corporation”.

The Howard government’s plan effectively collapses the state’s industrial relations systems, which differ greatly from the new system.

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Related news

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian industrial relations legislation, 2005
  • “Work Choices Fair Pay Chief heavily criticised” — Wikinews, November 15, 2005
  • “Hundreds of thousands rally in Australia against IR legislation” — Wikinews, November 15, 2005
  • “New Australian industrial relations legislation passes House of Representatives” — Wikinews, November 11, 2005
  • “Suspicions of nepotism arise from pulping of new Australian industrial relations information booklets” — Wikinews, November 8, 2005
  • Australian Government to introduce IR reforms next week” — Wikinews, October 24, 2005

Sources

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December 21, 2005

Work Choices Fair Pay Chief heavily criticised

Work Choices Fair Pay Chief heavily criticised

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Work Choices Fair Pay Chief: Ian Harper

Professor Ian Harper the government appointed Fair Pay Chief has come under heavy criticism this week from the Labour groups and the federal opposition.

Professor Harper was a non-executive director of the Australian Derivatives Exchange (ADX) when it was put under administration in March 28, 2001. The company went broke owing workers more than $700,000. In the process ADX breached the corporations law by failing to maintain required cash reserves , although the company eventually gave workers their w:entitlements.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews appointed Professor Harper in October, Mr Andrews spokesman Defended the appointment saying the government was aware of the economist’s history with the company and said in relation Professor Harper role in ADX ’s demise: “There has been absolutely no wrongdoing,” “The government was made aware by Prof Harper, and also by doing a check ourselves, of the company going into administration.” “We believe that Prof Harper is an eminently qualified person to head up the Australian Fair Pay Commission.”

Wayne Swan the Oppositions treasury, who has attacked the government over the Robert Gerards appointment to the reserve bank affair,spokesman has said there were serious questions to answer about Prof Harper’s appointment. “There is a pattern of behaviour here and a stench that surrounds the Howard government,”. “This is a government whose actions and appointments are blinded by extreme ideology.” Mr Swan said commenting on the recent history of important government appointments.

Sharan Burrow the president of the ACTU has told ABC radio that the government must better scrutinize Mr Harper’s business behaviour. “How on earth can they expect Australians to have any faith in their so-called Fair Pay Commission if the very head they’ve appointed, another government mate, is under a cloud,”

Controversial Government Appointments

  • Robert Gerard
  • Ian Harper

Workchoices issue related news

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian industrial relations legislation, 2005

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Australian industrial relations legislation
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December 2, 2005

Federal Opposition hounds Treasurer over appointment to RBA board, Gerard resigns

Federal Opposition hounds Treasurer over appointment to RBA board, Gerard resigns

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Friday, December 2, 2005 The Australian Federal Opposition has hounded the Treasurer, Peter Costello, over the appointment of Robert Gerard to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) board. Mr Gerard announced on Friday 2nd that he will resign from the Board, citing the events of this week as the reason.

On Tuesday, November 29, Wayne Swan, the Shadow Treasurer asked of Costello in the first question of Question Time about an apparent statement that Costello made to Gerard, namely, “I know there’s an issue with the Tax Office but I don’t have a problem with you on the board”. Costello responded that he had no problem with Gerard, noting that “he brings a great understanding of Australian manufacturing industry to the board”, and that the obligatory declaration of interest was “indeed was signed by Mr Gerard”.

Later it was said by Swan in the House of Representatives that Gerard’s company was using “tax havens as tax avoidance schemes to the value of $150 million” and that the declaration of interest mentioned was only in regard to his personal affairs and on asking the Treasurer when he knew this, claimed that him actually knowing the information “would breach the secrecy act”. Later Swan revealed that Gerard “and his corporate vehicles” have been “susbtantial donors” to the Liberal Party. Costello maintained that the Government “[does] not think that supporting the Liberal Party is a disqualification from holding ministerial office, prime ministerial office, Treasury office or other offices in Australia”

Swan moved a censure motion to “provide this House with a full and proper explanation of…his communications with Mr Robert Gerard…and his knowledge of Mr Robert Gerard’s dispute with the Australian Taxation Office…”, which failed in the Government’s favour with votes 83 to 59 in division.

On Wednesday, November 30, Swan opened the House in a movement to suspend standing orders again to get information from the Treasurer, stating that “The Treasurer is in real strife” before the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer moved the gag. In Question Time, the Opposition continued to ask every question in regard to the appointment of Gerard. The Leader of the Opposition Kim Beazley revealed in his question to the Treasurer that “some of his cabinet colleagues have privately said that they did not consider Mr Gerard was ‘a good choice’ in the first place for the Reserve Bank board”. The Treasurer responded that Gerard’s “appointment was supported by all members of the cabinet”

In the subsequent Matters of Public Importance debate, the matter selected was that proposed by Wayne Swan, namely, “The need for the Treasurer to uphold the highest standards of probity in the selection of candidates for the Reserve Bank Board.”

On Thursday, December 1, the Opposition again reserved a number of its questions for inquiring about Gerard’s appointment. Swan revealed in a question to the Treasurer that Gerard Corporation had “acquired an investment company in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands eight months after the Treasurer recommended his appointment to the Reserve Bank board”. Costello responded to Swan referring him to “a statement about that allegation in the Australian Financial Review today…in which he makes it clear that no income has been derived.”

Later, the Leader of the Opposition tried to move a censure motion on the treasurer, but leave of the House was not granted, so he had to resort to moving a motion to suspend standing orders to move the same motion, to censure the Treasurer for his appointment. The motion failed due to Government numbers, but the Matters for Public Importance (which follows Question Time) which was selected as “The need for the Government to govern for all Australians not just a privileged few.” in order to draw a comparison with the unequal treatment of the Treasurer in supporting Gerard and the new industrial relations legislation, dubbed WorkChoices, and said how the Treasurer and the Prime Minister were “laughing up their sleeves”, that the Treasurer was “not fit to lead”, and Gerard “is the worst attendee on the Reserve Bank board.”

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, however focused elsewhere on the MPI, and drew the attention of the Australian Labor Party’s ties to the unions, had described the Opposition as a “policy free zone”, said that “there is one group that represents privilege in this place and that is the Australian Labor Party”, and stressed the benefits of WorkChoices.

Craig Emerson noted that the Queensland branch of the Liberal Party participated in “deliberate tax evasion”, and that Mr Gerard “paid penalty tax in circumstances of deliberate tax evasion”. Emerson later said that the Liberal Party was “soft on tax cheats”, “soft on tax cheating Liberal Party donors…and members”.

The adjournment debate also brought up criticism of Gerard’s appointment in the adjournment debate. Christopher Bowen noted the “disquiet” in the media, and noted the previous Board member Bernie Fraser also calling for his dismissal. Bernard Ripoll called for a “full inquiry” into the Government’s “self serving public policy”.

Swan has said that Gerard had done the “honourable thing”, but that he will not let up on pressing the Treasurer for a full disclosal of the facts.

The House of Representatives as of this date sits next on December 5, 2005.

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
  • Australian House of Representatives Hansard, dates November 28 through December 1 inclusive.
  • Gerard quits RBA board” — Australian Broadcasting Corporation, December 2, 2005
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November 23, 2005

Workplace reform campaign most expensive in Australian history

Filed under: Archived,Australia,Oceania,Politics and conflicts,WorkChoices — admin @ 5:00 am

Workplace reform campaign most expensive in Australian history

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A senior Australian advertising executive says the Federal Government’s campaign to promote its workplace changes is the most costly in Australian history. Harold Mitchell from Mitchell and Partners says the Howard Government spent $26 million on TV advertising in October. The figure is more than any other entity including retailing giant Coles Myer.

Australian 20 cent coin

In October, 11,000 commercials were part of the campaign to sell its Industrial Relations (IR) reforms. Mr Mitchell said he could not recall a larger single monthly spending spree in Australian advertising history.

“There’s never been a campaign in history as big as that,” he said. “It followed of course the ACTU campaign which was something like, maybe one fifth of that size.”

He said the Government was the second biggest advertiser in Australia this year, having spent an estimated $117 million from January to the end of October. Only the supermarket and department store group Coles Myer has spent more in the same period – $156 million. Coles Myer spent $19 million last month.

Of the Government’s October advertising bill, $15 million went on TV ads, a 168 per cent increase on the bill for October 2004. The advertising blitz followed the ACTU campaign against the changes, which Mr Mitchell says came in at about one-fifth of the government’s bill.

The Nielsen Media Research spokesman said the figures are estimates of the cost of placing the advertisements and did not include their production.

On top of the TV spots, the Federal government spent more than $20 million on outdoor and print advertising. Plus another $4 million to $5 million on a nationwide pamphlet mail-out.

At the current rate spending will overtake the record $211 million spent selling the Goods and Services Tax (GST) over four years, and leaves all Australian company spending on advertising in the shade. The Government has earmarked $55 million to the IR campaign.

The professor of marketing at Australian Graduate School of Management, John Roberts, said the intensity of the advertising had become counterproductive. He said people who disagreed with the policy simply had their feelings reinforced by the endless advertising, while others had become “habituated” by the deluge and ignored the ads.

“It’s hard to believe they have done any research on this,” he said. “There is this naive belief you get sometimes in management that if a campaign is not working properly you simply open the spigot a bit more, but it doesn’t work that way.”

Business groups have launched their own campaign supporting the changes too. Yet despite the spending on advertising, two polls this week attributed a sharp drop in the popularity of the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Government, to the planned IR (WorkChoice) changes.

Australian Democrats workplace relations spokesman Andrew Murray “You just shouldn’t as a government be advertising prior to legislation before the Senate. It’s immoral,” Senator Murray said.

Opposition public accountability spokesman Kelvin Thomson said the campaign had cost taxpayers $1.7 million a day but had flopped, with Australians unconvinced that they would be better off under the changes. “It is an obscene waste of $55 million of public money used to fund a highly political flop,” Mr Thomson said.

Sources

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November 15, 2005

Hundreds of thousands rally in Australia against IR legislation

Hundreds of thousands rally in Australia against IR legislation

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An estimated 150,000 protesters in Melbourne fill Federation Square blocking roads in all directions.

People rallied in 300 locations across Australia today to protest the Federal Government’s proposed changes to industrial relations laws, WorkChoices. According to police, around 150,000 people congregated in Melbourne, from where speeches were broadcast throughout the country. In Sydney, thirty thousand gathered in Belmore Park and Martin Place to watch the broadcast before marching to Chifley Square.

Sharan Burrow, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), said that under the changes many working conditions would be under threat, including “penalty rates, public holidays, overtime pay, control over rostered hours, shift penalties, even 4 weeks annual leave.” The government has claimed, despite various expert assesment to the contrary, and opposition from major Australian religious and charity organisations and some concern from its own backbench, that the IR changes will improve the economy and ultimately benefit workers, and dismissed the protests as having “little effect”.

Speeches

Ms Burrow said that the union movement was “standing up for the values that shape the way we care for each other,” and criticised the proposed legislation, calling it “an attack on living standards, community, family life and wages.”

The IR changes were also criticised by a number of church leaders. George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, said “I’m not a supporter of the radical weakening of the unions,” and Anglican Bishop Phillip Higgins called them “disturbing and unwise.”

Ms Burrow also criticised the Government’s public relations campaign, calling it a waste of money. “They spent $55 million of our money trying to convince us that everything was okay,” she said.

Greg Combet, Secretary of the ACTU, linked the struggle to past wars in which Australia has fought. “They fought and died in wars for this country. They do not deserve to have their rights taken away.” He said that, for many, workplace changes would come quickly, especially for the most vulnerable. He also argued that some employers would be forced by competition to reduce wages and working conditions. “Even the best employers can be driven by competition to lower their labour costs. We will end up with an army of working poor, like the US,” he said.

“We will hold the government to account for the human cost of these laws,” Mr Combet said.

Former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke said that the struggle was about what he called “the essence of Australian character – the fair go.” Opposition Labor leader Kim Beazley declared that if returned to government at the next election, Labor would repeal the legislation. “This legislation is gone with the election of a Labor government,” he said.

Government response

Prime Minister John Howard predicted that the protests would have little effect. “It is my view that after they (the laws) have been implemented for a period of time, most Australians will look back on the criticisms and objections … with a sense of bewilderment,” Howard said.

“The sky will not fall in, weekend barbecues will not be abolished, parents will still be able to spend Christmas Day with their children.”

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, echoed the Prime Ministers sentiments. “Well the Government’s not going to be distracted by rallies and hysterical overreaction,” he said. Mr Andrews defended the Government’s record, arguing that it has been responsible for an increase in wages over the past ten years.

“Well what I would say to Australians, whether they were the people on the streets today or the probably 95% of Australians who were in their workplaces today working, is that firstly, look at the record of this Government over the last 10 years. That record speaks for itself. We’ve seen a 15% increase in real wages and we’ve seen a 1.7 million increase in jobs in Australia,” he said. Mr Andrews also said that the industrial relations changes were about creating the conditions for a strong economy.

“So what we’ve been on about is bringing about the economic conditions that we can have a strong economy which ultimately is the only guarantee of jobs and wages in Australia.”

Debate over proposed legislation

The claims of the Government are highly debated and not supported by some independent expert assesment. Professor Mark Wooden from the Melbourne Institute said, “There is no economic sense in it.” A report issued by 17 independent experts in industrial relations from Australian tertiary institutions stated that there “is no convincing evidence that the proposals will generate jobs,” and that the “claim that individual contracts deliver a higher productivity is highly questionable.”

The IMF said in its 2005 review of the Australian economy that “the implementation of this package of reforms to widen employment opportunities and raise productivity by enhancing flexibility in work arrangements” was important for Australia’s economic future, contradicting Prof. Wooden’s claims.

The OECD also supports reform to the Industrial relations system, claiming in its 2004 Review of the Australian Economy “To further encourage participation and favour employment, the industrial relations system also needs to be reformed so as to increase the flexibility of the labour market, reduce employment transaction costs and achieve a closer link between wages and productivity.”

Melbourne protest

Melbourne, Australia 150,000 turnout for Protest

Before marching to the Carlton gardens, a live video hook-up was established between the major state capitals of Australia, plus smaller regional centres.

Melbourne’s city streets are denuded of traffic to allow the protest against IR reforms

According to police, some 150,000 marched from Federation Square to Royal Exhibition building to protest the proposed IR legislation and voice opinion, vastly in excess of original union estimates of 60,000. Organisers estimated a crowd up to 245,000 while a report from Sky News from aerial observation estimated 175,000 people attending the protest. The crowd spread through as far as the eye could see – a seemlingly endless mass from the ground. The march stretched eight city blocks; when the first marchers had reached the end at the Carlton Gardens, the tail end was just starting.

For the marchers, the consensus was that the negatives of the legislation outweigh the benefits; that it will affect the poorer working class and the middle class long into the future unless the legislation is rolled back. One issue of concern was that the Government has not accepted that the minimum wage needs to rise with inflation, rather its position appears to be to allow for the possibility that the minimum wage could fall in real terms. Another was the loss of the safety net protecting workers from contacts offering less than award conditions.

Public transport was stretched to capacity and car parking was almost impossible to find. Inclement weather ultimately became fine. See the photo gallery for more photos

Sydney protest

March proceeding through Sydney streets

At 10am the estimated 30,000 protestors moved from Belmore Park down Hay St onto George St, chanting slogans and waving union banners.

Led by a fire truck, traditional Korean drummers and the Unions NSW campaign bus, they stretched nearly six city blocks along George Street, chanting their opposition to the changes.

Meeting with the rally from Martin Place, the combined march then moved on to Chifley Square, where another stage was set up, and more speakers were heard, including Peter Garrett, Federal member for Kingsford-Smith.

Garrett spoke mostly about the dispute between Boeing and 28 aircraft engineers at its Williamtown site. The workers are on strike to obtain the right to enter into a collective agreement negotiated by their union, rather than independent agreements. The strike is now in its fifth month.

Up to 100,000 people in NSW took part in 227 separate stopwork meetings throughout the state, linked by a nationwide Sky Channel hook up. The M4 motorway was also blocked off for nearly an hour, by transport workers and police.

More photographs of the Sydney protest can be seen in the Australian Industrial Relations Protest (Sydney) Gallery.

Brisbane protest

In Brisbane, Queensland, organisers have claimed success after more than 15,000 people turned out to protest against the industrial relations laws. Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley joined the workers, including representatives from 40 unions, who rallied at South Bank before marching to the Queensland office of the National party.

Mr Beazley told the South Bank rally that one of the first things he would do as Prime Minister would be to put in place “a fair system”.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said the State Government will push ahead with its High Court challenge to the Howard Government’s proposed changes to industrial laws.

Rallies were also organised for the Gold Coast, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns.

Adelaide protest

In Adelaide, the SA Premier Mike Rann told a rally, estimated by police at 15,000 workers, that the State Government will fight the proposed new laws all the way to the High Court. “This is the most systematic attack on the values of Australian people that we’ve seen since the Second World War,” Mr Rann said.

SA Unions secretary Janet Giles was ecstatic with the response. “40,000 people in a city of one million . . . a sensational turnout. There are people here from every union, from all industries,” she said.

Adelaide images here

Perth

In Perth WA commuters experienced transport disruptions today as the city came to a halt for the Rally. Police estimates put the crowd at 10,000. UnionsWA secretary Dave Robinson told those assembled near the foreshore of the Swan River that it was a historic day. Premier Geoff Gallop, WA Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke and federal Labor industrial relations spokesman Stephen Smith also spoke at the rally.

The government earlier today revealed that Solicitor General Robert Meadows, QC, would lead WA’s High Court fight, mounted in conjunction with Queensland and NSW. Mr Kobelke said the action would seek to save 100 years of cooperative Australian industrial relations based on conciliation and arbitration. Perth images here

Other Cities

According to the ABC, 4,500 people rallied in the Tasmanian city of Hobart. Unions say 3,000 workers have rallied at Thoroughbred Park in Canberra. In Darwin, nurses, teachers, public servants, construction workers and entire families have turned out to show that not only workers will be affected by the Federal Government’s industrial relations reforms. Traffic blocked the roads leading the Fannie Bay Racecourse. Crowds jostled for space to see the satellite fed telecast from the Melbourne rally.

Wellington, NZ also showed solidarity as some 200 people demonstrated outside the Australian Embassy.

Photo Gallerys

Melbourne Gallery

Sydney Gallery

Related

  • “Thousands of Australian workers set to rally against IR reform” — Wikinews, November 15, 2005

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian industrial relations legislation, 2005
Wikipedia
Wikipedia has more about this subject:
Australian industrial relations legislation
Commons
Wikimedia Commons has more media related to:
Hundreds of thousands rally in Australia against IR legislation
  • Samantha Baden. “30,000 march in city” — AAP, November 15, 2005 Cites 30,000 as Sydney crowd size
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