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No cover-up, no WorkChoices II: Howard

Posted November 20, 2007 07:41:00
Updated November 20, 2007 11:26:00

No cover-up: Prime Minister John Howard (File photo)

No cover-up: Prime Minister John Howard (File photo) (AAP: Dean Lewins)

Prime Minister John Howard insists the Coalition does not have any plans for a second wave of industrial relations laws.

Channel Seven says Mr Howard's department drafted a second wave of industrial relations laws in 2005, but later scrapped the idea.

Yesterday the Government won a two-year Freedom of Information (FOI) battle to keep the plans secret, saying the idea had been dumped so the information was not in the public interest.

This morning Mr Howard defended the decision to fight the FOI request.

"Those documents were 'advice to Cabinet' documents in relation to the decisions taken in 2005," he said.

"Those sort of documents are not normally released because they're part of the Cabinet process - there's nothing conspiratorial about that.

"Let me state very simply and categorically - there is no second wave or further wave of industrial relations reform planned, none whatsoever," he added.

"This is a total beat-up, a total falsehood."

But Labor has accused the Government of a cover-up.

"Why should we believe what comes from this Government about WorkChoices when they didn't tell Australians the truth before the last election," Labor deputy leader Julia Gillard said.

"If they had nothing to hide then they would be releasing those documents.

"Instead they fought tooth and nail for more than two years to keep those documents secret."

The Coalition has repeatedly promised it will not make further changes to its workplace laws.

The row comes as a new opinion poll points to a Labor election victory on Saturday.

Today's Newspoll in The Australian has Labor ahead of the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis, 54 per cent to 46.

Mr Howard has made up some ground as preferred Prime Minister, but Kevin Rudd is still in front.

Tags: business-economics-and-finance, industrial-relations, government-and-politics, federal-government, federal-election-2007, howard-john, australia

Comments (70)

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  • swinging voter:

    20 Nov 2007 1:01:01pm

    So who was the judge who ruled that I'm not allowed to read documents that I paid for to be written? How stupid does this judge think I am, "interpreting" the FOI laws in regard to my public government? It has been revealed that the government spent a considerable amount of time on this in 2005, can Australians be paid back a considerable amount of the 2005 budget for this "private" work carried out by the government? Or at least put the new IR laws in action, fire the government for using public money to produce private work.

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  • Greg h:

    20 Nov 2007 12:40:33pm

    Work choices, work choices...Does the ALP has any policy worthwile apart froma a anti-work choices campaign. Sky has not fallen in despite the union scare mongering, there is no reason to return to a single desk enterprise bargaining, this is not the 50's 0r 60's which the ALP voters want to return to.

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  • Scared:

    20 Nov 2007 12:31:22pm

    Work choices tears at the fabric of our society already.
    Forced weekend and out of hours work DISADVANTAGES MY KIDS.
    There is no other employer for country Aussies.
    This shows that the fear that howard and costfellow will introduce even more unfriendly laws is obviously REAL.
    I am scared of what howard and costello will do if re-elected.

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  • Al:

    20 Nov 2007 12:17:03pm

    I read the question "where does bertrand get his research from" and it reminded me of something I'd read from him a while back, located http://abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/05/2081459.htm

    It read "You may not recall but Barak Obhama tried to tell John Howard that we werent trying hard enough in Iraq, asking how many divisions had we deployed. Then some americans pointed out that if we were to deploy a divison a similar american deployment per capita would be larger than their standing army. Then everyone stood around Barak Obama, who is very inexperienced, and laughed." Really Bertrand? Since we have a population of 20 million compared to America's 300 million, and our troop commitment to Iraq is around 1500, while America's is 150,000 something tells me your maths and researching skills leave a lot to be desired.

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  • Wayne:

    20 Nov 2007 12:00:19pm

    What the unions were doing in the 70s and 80s has ultimately led to the situation we now have. However we have now gone from one extreme to the other.
    Why do we have unions - because many years ago bosses couldnt be trusted to do the right thing by their workers, they flogged them to death for meagre wages and no conditions or rights. That led to the rise of unions and ultimately getting laws/rules/regulations in place that made it hard (nearly impossible) to fire someone.
    I aqree that if an employee is hopeless, lazy, negligent, unproductive they should be sacked, but I also agree that workers should have basic conditions and protection so they cannot be exploited or held over a barrel by an employee.
    The big worry should not be now when we have high employment, low unemployment. It should be when the economy is going through a dip and unemployment rises.
    In this situation under the AWA system employers will be able to sack who they want and employ people from the dole queues on even lower wages and worse conditions because they can and if you dont like it there are plenty in the dole queues who will take the opportunity - thats when the current system will really come home to bite.
    What we need is a fair and equitable system where you get hired and paid a decent wage with all the basic conditions that workers and unions have fought for, but if you chose to not perform you get the sack.

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      • wmc:

        20 Nov 2007 12:40:50pm

        You miss the point Wayne. Eliminating AWAs will do nothing to protect peoples jobs in an economic downturn. If firms need to downsize, they'll do so, regardless of what employment instrument is in place.

        That's the great union furphy - they claim to protect jobs but the conditions they impose act as a detriment to employment.

        Once Labor overturns Howard's reforms to unfair dismissal laws, employers will revert to using casual employment arrangements. And who will win from that? No one.

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          • William Flynn:

            20 Nov 2007 1:06:04pm

            WMC., I don't think anyone at heart could say that workplace relations did not need restructuring. However if Unions are capable of excesses, then so are Governments. The very fact that the PM had to be forced to implement the fairness test, would suggest that perhaps the Industrial Commission should not have had its powers curtailed.

            As for a return to casual working, there were already regulations in place to require the full time employment of such workers. Indeed many employers are now realising that it is cheaper in the long term, and vastly more efficient to hire full time permanent workers.

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      • James A:

        20 Nov 2007 12:43:20pm

        Don't forget labour costs are kept artificially high by the minimum wage and awards.

        The theory behind Workchoices is that you want a pure market economy, you scrap all of this, and in time the market 'should make everything fair'.

        This is how is works for most of the world's population, including in the US (where only discrimination on sex and race is illegal). And in an ever increasing global economy, this is the world Australians compete against.

        Labour is available in huge quantities world wide. There is a reason wages haven't risen above US minimum wages on their own in 30 years. Because there are enough people willing and able to fill jobs at this pay rate.

        Companies like Qantas are able to now go offshore for their workforce and bypass even the relatively weak Workchoices laws.

        It is legally impossible for an employer to pay below minimum conditions here - unless they are willing to go for a cash in hand or 'must have an ABN sub-contractor' type arrangement. (That is where you work but your 'company' , i.e. you, is paid less than the minimum wage and then your 'company' pays you.) They do this in vast numbers - its all largely hidden.

        Workchoices doesn't really remove the incentives for these arrangements or going offshore. So it can be argued it doesn't go fair enough.

        The Liberals mistake is that although these reforms are necessary, they didn't prepare the economy or society for this.

        What the government needs to focus on is the following:

        1) reducing tax at the bottom end and reducing the minimum wage to cater for this.
        2) investing in money making schemes and then putting the profits into further reducing tax
        3) investing in education and extending HECS to trades
        4) reducing the food bill by opening up the food market more.
        5) investing in renewable energy such as solar and wind while saving our non-renewable resources for sale to everyone else. then sell the renewable energy technology for more cash.

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  • Rob:

    20 Nov 2007 11:57:46am

    To ascertain who is the party or candidate to vote for you just have to look at a track record in office and match it against economic reality. It stacks up that Labor has a very poor record in managing the economy and without a well managed economy People cannot benefit from wealth generated simply because it will not be in existence no matter what sentiments or ideas they have - witness badly managed e.g Zimbabwe which has little to offer simply because it has been run into the ground by a leader who does not understand economics. The same will happen here with bad management. There is no doubt and it is indicting that the likes of Julia Gillard as evidenced in her answers to questions put in on a number of occasions has not a clue about economic principles yet will have input into policy. I pity anyone who has a large mortgage and is in a low income group , it will simply not be fair on them.

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      • Peter:

        20 Nov 2007 12:21:22pm

        I fixed my mortgage a few months ago, just in case.....

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      • Darren:

        20 Nov 2007 12:35:24pm

        Rob..

        Julia Gillard has an Economics Degree AND a Law Degree..
        I think she may have a better handle than you are prepared to give credit for... or may want to believe.

        The current Government has the same right to claim responsibility for the economic conditions as did Queen Victoria during the Gold Rush in Australia. Or earlier Governments while we were gang-busters on the sheeps back.

        The super speed of growth in China and India is feeding a huge minerals boom (as was the Gold Rush) that is trickling down (a term I'm sure you would like) and heating our economy. Very little to do with whoever is in Government..

        But Federally, the current Government has
        1. Not invested in either human or capital infrastructure to ensure there are no constraints on the continued growth. AND INPORTANTLY..
        2. We can only dig this stuff up ONCE and so-far the Government has taken the tax revenue from nations natural resorces and used it as Tax-Bribes and "Advertising"..

        Roll on Saturday..

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      • Vote 1 Economy:

        20 Nov 2007 12:52:22pm

        Please do some reading before making such wild allegations as "liberal = boom times, labor = recession". If you listen to any non-biased economist they will tell you that the Australian economy is strongly influenced by global factors - the late 80's recession was a global recession and the current boom is a global boom. Running surpluses during boom times and deficits during recessions is bread & butter economics. Look at page 13 of this link: http://www.rba.gov.au/ChartPack/graphical_summary.pdf and you'll see the Hawke/Keating government running surpluses during the mid-80's boom and then deficits during the recession. You will also see Fraser ('75 to '83) running many deficits.

        If we're going to use Zimbabwe as a comparison, how about we compare Mugabe's politically motivated economic blunders with Howard & Costello's insistence that interest rates did not need to rise when the RBA and most economists were saying otherwise. Imagine if Howard could still set interest rates - he'd be able to pork-barrel every mortgager in one hit at the expense of the economy.

        Please don't base your vote on perception of economic competence - there is more than just the economy,.

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  • Patrick:

    20 Nov 2007 11:45:24am

    Demonising the trade union movement is nothing new, the conservatives were successful in the US with the same ploy.
    Most of the people on here doing the same thing would no doubt enjoy holiday leave, sick leave, workers compensation,some holiday loadings, some penalty rates etc...where do you think these benifits came from ?...given by benevolent employers ?..no, they were won over a long period of time by trade unions and won at a cost..if you feel so strongly about the union menace why dont you go to your boss and hand back all the conditions that were won for you by them...I know you wouldnt have much of a job package if you did.

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      • Rupert:

        20 Nov 2007 12:01:45pm

        Patrick the Unions had a role to play through the industrial revolution onward to a point. They do not really have a clear role to play anymore, the battles have been fought and won. I personally am not a member of a Union nor will I be as my profession does not have a union. We are able to negotiate our contracts based on professional qualifications, skill and ability.

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  • Snorri:

    20 Nov 2007 11:40:07am

    I've got just one word to say to you Mr Howard, "never ever"!
    There will be "WorkChoices mark 2" if they win the election, as Peter Costello and Nick Minchin have already allueded to previously.

    If John Howard says there wont be, that means that there will be, either he'll bring it in just before he leaves, or Costello will just after he takes over, claiming of course that he doesn't have to honour the last bloke's (Howard's), "promises", (as that was the old regime).

    On their track record of lies and deceit, broken promises, backflips by the dozen, and "non-core" promises, the risk is too great.
    And the eveidence suggests that they will!

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      • Bard:

        20 Nov 2007 12:07:22pm

        I keep hearing Howard's "never ever" GST line being thrown back at him by 'True Believers' BUT hang on a minute...why aren't Labor proposing the roll-back of the GST as part of their campaign platform?

        Labor were (and I assume still are) totally opposed to the GST, they campaigned viciously against it, it was an economy killer (sounds just like their line on Workchoices)" yet they are totally silent on the issue these days (except for slipping in the "non-core promise swipe at every occasion)

        I guess the ALP and their "True-Believers" weren't REALLY against the GST?..... just "non-core" against it huh?

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  • wmc:

    20 Nov 2007 11:23:15am

    Why are people so worried about Howard destroying the unions? Thankfully, they're doing a good job of that themselves.

    Despite Howard's so-called assault on the workers, they haven't flooded back to the loving arms of the union bosses. That's because unions have nothing to offer.

    The unions destroyed manufacturing in the '70s and but for people like Jay Pendarvis, Hugh Morgan and Peter Costello, they would've destroyed other industries as well.

    Thankfully, even Labor's plan to reverse reforms to unfair dismissal laws and eliminate AWA's will be bad for the unions because employers will simply revert to using casual employment arrangements and casual workers don't join unions.

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      • Sammy:

        20 Nov 2007 11:37:11am

        All things have there place and time.
        Unions have had there time and slowly they will phase into something more useful. Costello and Howard don't seem to see this themselves. They continue to talk of socialists and communists as if they still exist. MAAAAAATE that was 20 years ago they live in dream land. With all Labor state govt. responsible for the majority of the IR landscape the world does not seem to have fallen in. Give it a rest.
        Hugh Morgan, isn't he the chap who denies Climate change.... has nothing to do with his investments in the mining industry... a man for others or his own self interst.

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          • Rupert:

            20 Nov 2007 12:04:00pm

            Sammy the Unions are still massively powerful in other countries, just look at France. They will not merge into anything but what they are as their is no role for them outside their small window of opportunity. Just so happens that the current economic climate is not conducive to massive unemployment which is generally when Unions thrive. They are lying dormant in most regards, in a few years time if the job market collapses they will rear their ugly heads.

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          • Barry:

            20 Nov 2007 12:24:29pm

            State Labor Govts responsible for IR? you have no idea, do you? The High Court decision of last year re use of the Corporations power under the Constitution effectively hands responsibility of IR laws to the Commonwealth. It is annoying when people like you have no idea of IR....yet espouse inaccuracies and misleading info ad nauseum on forums like this....

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      • martygee:

        20 Nov 2007 12:08:39pm

        Spoken by someone who doesn't have a clue about unions or what they offer. I joined the CPSU for the first time in my career in the last six months, because they did a outstanding job in negotiating a new agreement with our employer. They took a hostile opening offer and turned it into a fair agreement. They even arranged insurance for members who might be injured travelling to and from work (protection that Howard removed). Think for yourself and stop chanting a mantra of political spin and scaremongering.

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  • Jessica:

    20 Nov 2007 11:21:14am

    John Howard is not a Prime Minister we can trust. He has completely lost touch with what the people want, or he simply does not care. I find it incredible that he can sit up there on his high horse with his ridiculous salary and more than reasonable conditions, and have the audacity to pass laws that show a complete disregard for workers in Australia. Under Howard's IR laws, if I were to be fired today, I would have no recourse. I would simply have to find another job and face the same instability yet again, just in a different business. Lets not even bring up the ridiculous sum of money he spent defending the IR laws that we weren't even told about in the last election, with pathetic propaganda. He is dishonest and manipulative and won't even stay the full term. Wake up Australia. The Government should be responsible to the people, not acting in the interests of themselves. I know who I'm voting for this Saturday.

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  • Dave from Perth:

    20 Nov 2007 11:04:29am

    Gillard is right, if the Govt had nothing to hide, they wouldn't have fought 'tooth and nail' to keep the workchoice documents out of the public forum. Governments are supposed to be transparent, open and accountable to the public. This government - & especially John Howard, gives a new meaning to the term transparency - we can certainly see through Mr Howard and his lying vultures this time round. Looking forward to voting you out on Saturday Mr Howard.

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      • Bard:

        20 Nov 2007 11:41:11am

        It's got nothing to do with Government Dave. Since when has the Labor party or ANY party for that matter made public all their party room discussions?

        "Transparency"? The Labor party has installed a "conservative" as their Leader AND a 'conservative' would-be treasurer to try and fool the electorate that their party has suddenly become a 'conservative' party and can be 'trusted' to Govern in a 'conservative' manner....................

        Turn it up.


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  • JellyDude:

    20 Nov 2007 11:03:44am

    John Howard has said there won't be any changes to WorkChoices, however he's made a point of suggesting the Coalition are the only party for full employment. If he wins this election, he'll take his "Full Employment" call as a mandate for further IR reforms ... be warned.

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  • dean:

    20 Nov 2007 10:54:37am

    It would be really nice if all the anti-union people did their homework and actually acknowledged the role that many unions have played in improving the wages and conditions of workers across the globe.

    If it wasn't for the union, hospitality workers in Victoria would not have a smoke-free work environment. Each year there are more deaths in the workplace than on our roads. If you think you can rely on the business community to enforce costly safety regulations, then think again.

    The Howard government has misrepresented unions in order to further isolate workers. Workers need union representation in order to protect the rights of workers, no matter who is in government.

    All the victories won by unions are so conveniently overlooked, so just think about that as you get your paid holiday, maternity leave,
    sick pay, redundancy pay, long service leave, etc.

    Wake up Australia!

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  • charles:

    20 Nov 2007 10:54:28am

    As a former employer of staff in small business I found that it was much easier to employ people using AWA's and it allowed me to employ people without the concerns of not being able to let them go if they were no good at the job.My only contact with unions when I wa stold we had to spend some money and advertise intheit magazine or else we would get no supplies delivered onto our building sites."union thugs'
    tHe right of an employer to hire amd fire is not something i would ever be prepared to give away to union thugs.It seems to me th eonly people who complain about the current I.r. laws are the very people who have benefitted from them by being able to find employment.
    bring back the old days and you will all be queing up at the dole office.

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      • harry:

        20 Nov 2007 11:26:01am

        why don't people put more effort into making sure they hire the right staff in the first place? Then you wouldn't have to fire them.

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  • Jimmy:

    20 Nov 2007 10:52:28am

    If he has nothing to hide why have they fought so hard to have it suppressed? And he has the cheek to run an over the top baseless fear campaign. Unfortunately it will only get more extreme over the next few days and more fanciful.

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  • Andrew:

    20 Nov 2007 10:50:57am

    All easy to attack Howard, what is Rudds plan? He hasn't told us? So when he gets in and puts into place something, are you Labor supporters going to complain because he hasn't told you.

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  • Packhorse:

    20 Nov 2007 10:38:55am

    Bertrand, where do you get your information from? Five minutes of research suggests to me that their are conflicting opinions on whether the unions helped or hindered the war effort.

    However, regardless of what the unions did or did not do during WWII, it is shocking for this country, awash with millions of well paid consumers, to suggest that unions are evil or anti-business. Before unions we had sweatshops, poorhouses, child labour, the landed gentry... do you want to go back to this?

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  • Robert Boyce:

    20 Nov 2007 10:38:03am

    Think about it RMJ. the Howard government has done some good things too, my point is the economy might crumble if we return to the days of union domination, if you are honest in your asessment of unions, think about the strikes and blockades under previous Labor Govts. The workplace is pretty peaceful now and anyone who wants to work can. Workplace agreements are not compulsury, and neither should unionism be compulsury. (it certainly was under labor).

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      • Ajax:

        20 Nov 2007 11:50:27am

        Unionism was never compulsory across all workplaces no matter what flavour of politics was in power. I've been working for decades and never been a union member.

        Some workplaces, yes, but not all.

        In fact one of the most militant unions, the Victorian BLF, was broken by a State Labour Premier (Cain)

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      • ozocker:

        20 Nov 2007 12:47:28pm

        I wish you people would do a little bit of research and get your facts straight. Unionism has not been compulsory for decades

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  • Al:

    20 Nov 2007 10:29:41am

    Labor has never denied it's links to Trade Unions. However, the Libs have tried to cover up documents relating to Workchoices, but then claim that they aren't going to make substantial changes! If that's the case then release the documents.

    Some bloggers raised the issue of Labor sharing records of meeting they have had with unions. How about the Libs share their records from meeting with Big Business or the Betheran. Can't have your cake and eat it too!

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  • Daniel:

    20 Nov 2007 10:28:41am

    Yet another distraction for voters who are still trying to decide who they will be voting for on Saturday.

    As much as I would like to see Howard and his front bench be given the boot, the Government has had to deal with and explain so many trivial matters throughout this six week campaign.

    None of the policies are cutting through and it's because of the media beat up surrounding the Liberal campaign.

    Rudd has not once had to face up to serious interview in this election, instead appearing on morning shows and Rove Live, something which makes me quite nervous, because he has not been properly scrutinised.

    Whatever happens, don't let Howard gain control of the senate... that's when he WILL have the chance to push through Workchoices MACH II.

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  • ant:

    20 Nov 2007 10:21:08am

    Robert Boyce, what about the secret pact Liberal have with the Exclusive Bretheren? They have funded pro-Liberal campaigns and deny they are behind it. The unions aren't hiding anything about what they believe in.

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      • Guy:

        20 Nov 2007 11:01:34am

        My friend,

        The majority of the unions in Australia are doing exactly that...................hiding what they believe in. That is the mandate from the Labor Party heirarchy. Read your own documentation. They are not silly. They are not going to let the unions show their colours and damage Mr Rudd's campaign. The Labor Party campaign policy is to not even use the word union.
        You can relax though, after the election thay will expect and be given the favours they are owed for their temporary silence.

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  • R Allen:

    20 Nov 2007 10:20:48am

    No second wave of workchoices. Is this the same man who said he wouldn't introduce a GST, is this the same man who said children overboard, is this the same man who said weapons of mass destruction, is this the same man who would keep intrest rates at record lows. how can anyone believe, never mind vote for, the most underhanded, dishonest, coniving and dispassionate Prime Minister this country has ever had and some people think he is great what does that say about them too?

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  • Not again:

    20 Nov 2007 10:17:12am

    Dear John: You make big fuss and claims that labor will undo WorkChoice. But, you fail to convince me why is it wrong for the workers to benefit from the legitimate part of the success of a business? Why do we need to change job to benefit from the success of the economy? Why can we not have intelligent discussions between employees and employer to set fair sharing of success?

    Please instead of scare advertisements, let us know how WorkChoice brings good to employees other through constant change of employment. If constant change of employment is good, then it is time for you to change your job to get a taste of this good.

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      • Warren:

        20 Nov 2007 10:48:14am

        What's the matter with Workchoices? I'm on an AWA and I'm happy with it. It's better than anything I've ever had before and I've been working for 36 years. There must be something about Workchoices that frightens the bejesus out of Labor and the unions - $30 million worth of ALP (union) funds advertising against it when those funds could have been more usefully used to help fellow workers with legitimate gripes.
        It's very similar to scare tactics put up against GST - what ever happened to Rollback. Haven't heard a thing from the ALP about rolling back the GST in recent years - obviously not a bad thing wouldn't you say?

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          • Not again:

            20 Nov 2007 12:48:41pm

            Warren my question has gone unanswered. Exactly, tell me what happiness AWA brought you that 36 years of work did not?

            If you believe the ALP is opposing it for $30million than you must also tell us how much business has pumped into coalition's coffers? IS coalition not pushing these neo-con IR policies for their advertisement expenses.

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  • Geoffrey Chaucer:

    20 Nov 2007 10:13:23am

    At least, there is consistency in the PM's mantra over the last eleven years:
    "I deny, I reject, I refute".

    If the PM says there will not be a second round of IR laws then that is that. Just as there wasn't to be a GST "never, ever".

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  • Brian:

    20 Nov 2007 10:12:18am

    These documents prove that Howard wanted to go further with WorkChoices - that's why he won't release them.

    It doesn't matter what promises Howard makes now - he won't be around to keep them. He'll retire and Costello will take over and say 'that was Howard, I have a different view' and the workplace laws will be even more extreme and unfair.

    Remember, Costello is a member of the extreme HR Nicholls Society, which believes workers shouldn't have any rights at all.

    Kevin Rudd is a safe pair of hands for the economy and I trust him when he says he'll make workplaces both flexible and fair.

    I don't trust Mr Howard, he has broken too many promises.

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  • Simon Rumble:

    20 Nov 2007 10:08:56am

    Is that a core or non-core promise, Mr Howard?

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  • Peter:

    20 Nov 2007 10:07:28am

    I guess the difference is that the sweeping changes to workchoices document exists, there is no contest of this. But where has this mythical supposed pact with the unions come from? I've not heard of it. The other problem is that Howard made no mention of workchoices prior to the last election, how can we trust him again?

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      • PeevedSteve:

        20 Nov 2007 10:40:44am

        Some of us have been foolish enough to trust him 3 times, Peter - personally I think there is a conspiracy within Liberal ranks to oust him, although they've waited far too long. If you look at some of the recent statements made by Turnbull and Abbott (off the record???) and the damning documents (the Regional Partnership Programme)surfacing just before the election.......certainly has me wondering.

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  • Newboy:

    20 Nov 2007 10:05:52am

    Good point Robert. Within days of the election, all these union heavyweights that rudd has "expelled" will be back on board.

    If Howard really wanted to take WorkChoices further, he's had control of the Senate, surely he would've done so already??

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      • Jeremy:

        20 Nov 2007 10:54:13am

        Not in the lead up to an election, come on, are you serious? That's why he always does the really bad stuff as soon as he gets in, so we have time to forget about it before the next polling day comes around. I'm impressed that the majority of Australians have finally had the brains to remember! This Saturday, we can become the next China with WorkChoices II, or we can grow as a strong country under Rudd. I know who I'm voting for.

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  • Chris:

    20 Nov 2007 10:03:45am

    Why should discussion points of government like this be available? The hypocrisy of Labor is just breathtaking - will Rudd release all the internal ALP policy discussions since he became leader? Can we have a look at the minutes of meetings between Rudd and the Unions? Or why don't we drop the bar a bit lower - will Rudd get his policies costed by Treasury anytime before Saturday? Oh, and what about that disaster George Newhouse - any chance we can see his resignation letter that he, State Labor and the Greens have worked so hard to suppress? Rudd talks about accountability in politics - what a joke.

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      • Berry:

        20 Nov 2007 10:19:22am

        "Why should discussion points of government like this be available?"

        ...umm, because they are elected by the public to represent the public? They are not a private company.

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      • Dan:

        20 Nov 2007 10:48:24am

        Even though I will be rooting for a Labor victory on Saturday, I agree with Chris. The idea that Cabinet should not have to divulge its deliberations is there to protect the democratic process within Cabinet, to allow for free conversation within elected representatives. If we take away this protection, Cabinet discussions will be come nothing more than PR conventions.

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          • Luke:

            20 Nov 2007 11:27:31am

            actively seeking to fight an FOI request is quite different (in process and in spirit) to simply not divulging deliberations.

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          • Chris:

            20 Nov 2007 11:32:42am

            Ultimately, the government will be accountable for the decisions its makes but it shouldn't be subject to beat up political campaigns for things it reviews in a decision making processs? What is so wrong with Malcolm Turnbull raising a different view to Howard about Kyoto, be it because he believes in it or thinks that the politics are right? And if Labor wins, why shouldn't Garrett be able to put his views and seek out some research on a range of more radical approaches to solving global warming? What about looking into the economic effect of shutting down the coal industry? If you look into and discuss it but don't take the step of actually doing it, should you then be dragged over the coals (so to speak) for looking at it?......The only reasons this issue is being jumped on by Rudd is because it fits in neatly with his fear campaign.

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  • rmj:

    20 Nov 2007 10:03:31am

    If the papers were made available to read they would be uncovered!
    To refuse there release therefore is not a cover-up?
    John howard treats Australians with contempt, believing that we are stupid.
    At last count around 46% of us are,
    How can people vote for people who hold the intelligence of all Australians in such contempt?

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      • Craig:

        20 Nov 2007 10:43:22am

        Its these sort of statements that make me worry about Labor and some of their supporters, the overall thrust is divisive to society. The people who vote or voted for the Libs and those that vote or voted for Labor are entitled to respect neither are fools they vote on what they believe is best for them and their country. To attack the voters on one side like you do is to undermine the very fabric of Democracy. I hope you are not reflective of the majority of voters on either side.

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  • T.A. Yates:

    20 Nov 2007 10:00:40am

    Is that a 'promise' or a 'core promise'? The Coalition have broken so many promises. They never told us what their changes to IR laws would entail ie WorkChoices before the last election. No, they just sprung it on us afterwards. I have no doubt that if they get in for another term, they'll find an excuse to do some more extensive destruction to workers' rights. It'll be called 'just fine-tuning the existing laws' or 'necessary to protect the economy' but more workers' rights and conditions will be legislated out of existence. Who could possibly be gullible enough to believe them again?

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  • Berry:

    20 Nov 2007 10:00:24am

    A government actively seeking to prevent the public accessing information? That is clearly a government I want to keep. NOT.

    Hiding information from the public shows that John Howard is more about saving his own skin than about the welfare of Australia. I government that tries to further democracy and freedoms is what I want, not one that tries to hide things and remove liberties. I am soooo hopeful that Saturday doesn't prove a disappointment. Labor offers a chance to restore integrity to govt.

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  • Andrew:

    20 Nov 2007 9:57:54am

    All this talk about Workchoices, and Labor scrapping it, but where is the detail of what Rudd will do? Labor supporters complain that Howard didn't tell us before the election that he was going to introduce WorkChoices, but Rudd is not telling us either? He is just going to scrap something.

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      • matthew C:

        20 Nov 2007 12:37:08pm

        Andrew, It's call Fair Work Australia. All the details can be found on the ALP website

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  • Robert Boyce:

    20 Nov 2007 9:53:31am

    Amazing, Rudd demands this when he keeps secret his agreement with the unions who have invested $30 million in advertising to get him elected, come on Kevvie come clean what is the payback deal you have with the heavyweights.

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      • James A:

        20 Nov 2007 9:57:40am

        The payback is the continuing existence of unions under a Rudd Labor government.

        Under Howard/Costello Workchoices II would probably eliminate them completely - possibly even make them illegal.

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      • rmj:

        20 Nov 2007 10:08:15am

        Perhaps to give them a fair go.
        Unions have done an immense amount of good for our country Robert. Just because some have acted inappropriately does not mean that they all have. Or do you think that because some Australians act inappropriately all Australians are bad?


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      • Owen:

        20 Nov 2007 10:08:33am

        Robert, you are speculating about some mythical Labor/Union agreement.

        There is a big, BIG difference.

        The existence of the Coalition's withheld document is a fact hence the court case. I wonder how much public money, yours and my taxes, was wasted fighting to keep them from public view.

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      • Ajax:

        20 Nov 2007 10:15:04am

        Well Robert, you seem to know so why don't you enlighten us all?

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      • Not again:

        20 Nov 2007 10:25:59am

        The reason they have invested is simply because last time they rallied for John Howard in Launceston. They voted for him and got WorkChoice.

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  • Verity:

    20 Nov 2007 9:47:37am

    If Howard has nothing to hide, then let the documents be released through the freedom of information act. One should always beware of those who protest the loudest.

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      • Bertrand:

        20 Nov 2007 10:11:12am

        I agree, and on that reasoning we should all be wary of the unions. Lets not forget the unions refused to load Australian ships in the second world war. Being a traitors isnt something we should quickly forget.

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          • Luke:

            20 Nov 2007 10:22:10am

            Unions are collectives of workers who try to achieve outcomes beneficial for all workers. Unions are NOT some entity seekign to destroy workplaces. Get it right, and stop falling for the crap you see+read from Howard and Costello.

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              • Bertrand:

                20 Nov 2007 11:03:32am

                You think that Howard and Costello rewrote history to say that Unions are traitors who went out of there way to see the Japanese invade our soil? Stop defending the indefensible.

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