While the Business Council of Australia and Peter Hendy and the ACCI are putting the boots into Kim Beazley’s promise to abolish Australian
Workplace Agreements, Labor is using the devil in the detail of IR changes to
mount a strong attack on the Government in Parliament.

This was yesterday’s lead case study from
the Opposition Leader:

My question is
to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the case of Emily Connor.
Is the Prime Minister aware that until March this year Emily had been employed
for five years as a child-care worker at the Blinky Bill child care centre in Canberra? Is the
Prime Minister also aware that, two days after the government’s industrial relations
legislation came into effect, Emily was called to her boss’s office, told her
services were no longer required and given no reason for her dismissal? Isn’t
it the case that Emily asked to say goodbye to the children in her care? She
was told that if she did not leave in ten minutes the police would be contacted
to escort her from the premises. Prime Minister, what do you say to Emily, who
now has no protection against such unfair and unconscionable treatment in the

And while Labor works over the detail, case
by case, of the new world of WorkChoices, Mike Steketee sets out the key points
of the politics of this all in The Australian today:

It is not
Beazley who has taken the risk on industrial relations: it is Howard, who went
further with this legislation than political prudence demanded…

Even if Howard
can convince the unemployed they will have brighter prospects under AWAs, there
are many more in jobs who will feel threatened by the potential loss of pay and
conditions. They include low and middle-income earners who are swinging voters
and Howard battlers hard pressed by mortgage payments and petrol prices…

The effect of
AWAs is to increase pay for those whose skills are in demand and reduce it for
the unskilled and low skilled, for whom the competition for jobs is fiercer…

Absolutely spot on.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey