Does the Prime Minister only give lip service to his state colleagues?

Take IR. When the Western Australian Liberals gathered the weekend before last, opposition leader Matt Birney had this to say:

I congratulate the Federal Government for its Industrial Relations changes, all of which I support, but I can not and will not agree to the sidelining of our State system in favour of one centralist system.

My message to our Federal friends today is simple: Please resist the temptation to move into our area. Help us win the next election and we will implement most, if not all, of the policies that you would like to see with State legislation.

The Tasmanian Libs face an election next year. Yesterday their leader Rene Hidding was hedging his bets. He told the ABC Tasmania that while he supports the move to a single national system, a Liberal Government would not make any changes for some time. “While there are workers in Tasmania under a state-based system we should have and we support a state-based industrial relations system, and so that current system in Tasmania will be required for quite some time,” he said.

Back in May, former Liberal adviser Peter Tucker wrote in Online Opinion: “John Howard does not give a hoot about his state colleagues. It is a political fact now that Howard is an expert at getting himself re-elected, as many column centimetres in the opinion pages attest, but nothing illustrates the fact more than his willingness to sacrifice the state Liberals to achieve his ends.”

He warned that “Liberal oppositions must be in dread about what is going to happen after July 1 when Howard gets control of the Senate. He will be able to give his centralist policies full throttle which can only mean continuing heartache for the state parties.”

It might be worthwhile dusting the story down.

Peter Fray

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