Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Coalition sells out supporters

By Graeme Haycroft - posted Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The Howard Government's new Fairness Test legislation has just officially ended Australia's flirtation with serious labour market reform for small business.

The legislation is seriously flawed. It will be too hard and expensive to use Australian Workplace Agreements in order to operate profitably and compete.

What is surprising, given Prime Minister John Howard's acute political antennae, is that the way it is being done will be damaging politically.


Apart from the fact the Government has done the ACTU's dirty work to effectively end AWAs, most businesses - having gone the hard yards to make the necessary changes to implement AWAs - will find it almost impossible to continue employing new people under the same conditions as existing employees.

Even worse, by the time they eventually realise the scope of the changes, there will be a significant retrospective penalty.

A Government trump card has been the public opposition to a return to the union system proposed by Labor leader Kevin Rudd. A key plank of Labor's policy is that AWAs will be replaced by Collective Workplace Agreements (CWAs).

If the AWA system is clogged to paralysis, the door is open for Rudd to have an epiphany and agree to retain them under a revised (“even fairer”) Fairness Test. Howard could hardly attack Labor's plans to destroy workplace reform. They did it themselves.

The real political damage of this proposed Fairness Test legislation can be likened to what Mark Latham tried to do to the Tasmanian forestry workers.

His plan was to destroy a few hundred jobs to curry favour with Greens voters in Melbourne and Sydney.


Everyone realised Latham was selling out his core constituency and, if you're prepared to do that, how can you be trusted with anything?

Howard's agreement to legislation which will severely damage a loyal part of his small business constituency, to assuage a group who won't vote for him anyway, is most uncharacteristic.

The Federal Government has spent $40 million of taxpayers' money trying to coax businesses to implement changes in their workplaces and introduce workplace agreements.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

First published in The Courier-Mail on June 27, 2007.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

11 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Graeme Haycroft is the executive director of the Nurses Professional Association of Australia.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Graeme Haycroft

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Graeme Haycroft
Article Tools
Comment 11 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy