Page 4173 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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I have heard a cry from those opposite that this can all be bargained for and negotiated by the worker when he or she sits in front of the boss for the AWA interview. Unless you have a skill that is particularly hard to source elsewhere or you are blessed with superb negotiating ability, you will be singing for your supper if you think that, given such an unequal relationship as boss and worker, you can hope that many people, particularly those who are currently unskilled or on minimum wages and conditions, will be able to preserve their right to a fair deal.

The way of life that we have long fought for is about to be lost and irreparable harm will be inflicted on our community, harm such as Mr Howard probably has never imagined. However, even as he hears the cries of thousands of Australians today, he blocks his ears and resolutely continues to maintain his determined path towards the shameful introduction of these horrendous IR changes, changes condemned by people from all walks of life. This is indeed a shameful page in our nation’s history, but I predict that we will look back on today as the day that the people of Australia set their collective feet very firmly on a path that will lead to the ousting of the Howard government once and for all.

The warning I issue to the opposition today is to beware. The strength of the opposition to this legislation is unlike anything you have ever seen. The demonstration of unity we saw this morning across the country is something which has not been seen on either side of politics for over 100 years. In fact, the last time we saw such a unified approach from employee representatives was when our great party was established. The strength of this movement will result in the rise of political debate once again and will throw out the Howard government in 2007.

John Howard does not realise that, for all the intended so-called economic benefits of this legislation, the biggest and most important effect will be the growth and the development of the union movement, the thing that he wishes to destroy. Unions will be there when the new five allowable matters fail to stretch to the protection of the minimum wage or when the collapse of the award system results in workplace inefficiency because of uncontrolled internal competition in the workplace. Every step of the way, unions will be there, and so will we. It is not hard to motivate the working community to rally against these extreme changes. For that very reason, they are extreme.


MR PRATT (Brindabella) (6.11): I rise to clarify remarks I made earlier today which have clearly caused some confusion. As is well known, the Liberal Party treats the issue of abortion as a conscience issue. As a result, the Liberal Party itself has no collective position on abortion. It is also on the record that the current seven members of the parliamentary Liberal Party oppose abortion to one degree or another.

In debate earlier today, I had certainly given the impression that the Liberal Party does not oppose abortion. That was not my intention, and I apologise for the confusion caused. My personal comments during this debate were around current legislation and the fact that my position, and indeed the opposition’s position, on protecting the unborn

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