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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4017..


MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):

Unions have made a commitment to continue the battle against the Howard government's draconian laws right up to the next election. The federal opposition has also vowed to rip up the IR laws should it win the next election. That promise was greeted with much applause by the attending crowds right around the country.

At the MCG in Melbourne, over 60,000 workers and members of the community made the effort to attend despite the fact that three train lines were down. Sharan Burrow, ACTU president, opened the rally and spoke of some of the unfair aspects of the new IR laws. She focused on the ability of bosses to sack people without notice, and for little reason, without any protection now being available.

Increasingly, the agenda of the Howard government is becoming obvious—to ensure that every Australian worker earning average or below average wages learns to accept that they should be thankful just to have a job and not complain about what the boss is offering. Australian workplace agreements—individual contracts—are becoming increasingly the method of employment. Almost every one of these contracts has had at least one award condition stripped away. Public holiday rates, overtime rates and penalty rates are all disappearing out of the AWAs. Employees are being told to take it or leave it, giving them no choice other than to accept what is being offered.

Over 100 years of hard won rights for ordinary workers are now under great threat from this government's draconian legislation, with the wishes of the employers prevailing over the desires of employees. Workers have no way to defend themselves from this onslaught.

ACTU secretary Greg Combet told the MCG rally, and the national broadcast, that it was undeniable that the longer these laws are in place the more people will be directly affected. He stated that the ACTU was not involved in a scare campaign—which is what the federal government has been promoting. In a measured approach, as always, Combet restated that the aim of the ACTU is to win the support of the Australian people by telling them the facts.

The unions in this country will now embark on a concerted campaign to overturn the IR laws and will win community support to vote for a change at the next election. This is not just for the benefit of the workers of today, but for our children and future generations. We must ensure that future generations are afforded the same rights and protections at work that we have enjoyed in our lifetime.

Working families are already under great pressure with increased interest rates. Now these IR laws are impacting negatively on all aspects of their family life, threatening their children's sporting activities and their ability to participate in family activities of any kind.

SpringOut festival

FashionACT Tantrum 2006

DLA Phillips Fox government and business triathlon

MR BARR (Molonglo-Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Industrial Relations) (5.25): I would like to talk


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