Thursday, 21 October 2010
Questions without Notice
Fairness for workers is important. It is important to their families and it is also important to the economy. So far as families are concerned, it is important to ensure that their rights are protected in the workplace: the right to collectively bargain and the requirement for employers to bargain in good faith. Also, the safety nets that we have introduced are important for their security. As for the importance to the economy, since we changed the previously unfair Work Choices arrangements we have seen productivity increase in the economy, real wages go up, an increase in jobs—600,000 of them created since we have been in office—a fall in industrial disputes and an assessment by Access Economics that the changes that we made to the unfair Work Choices legislation would reap benefits of $4.8 billion in savings to the Australian economy over the course of the next decade.
I am also asked if there are any challenges to this. I have to ask myself, ‘Why would you challenge a framework that delivered those sorts of outcomes?’ But those on the other side do challenge it. The coalition has basically committed, through statements today and earlier this month, to return this country to Work Choices, were they to get back into office. Remember that during the election campaign the Leader of the Opposition, when questioned about returning to Work Choices, said it was ‘dead, buried and cremated’. He even had to put it in writing on the Neil Mitchell program, because he told us that you could not believe a thing he said unless it was included in writing.