19/02/2008 - 14:54

Coalition says won't oppose govt's workplace reforms

19/02/2008 - 14:54

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The federal coalition has rejected the preferred industrial relations policy of its leader Brendan Nelson and his deputy Julie Bishop, deciding instead that it will not oppose legislation dismantling the Howard government's workplace laws.

Coalition says won't oppose govt's workplace reforms

The federal coalition has rejected the preferred industrial relations policy of its leader Brendan Nelson and his deputy Julie Bishop, deciding instead that it will not oppose legislation dismantling the Howard government's workplace laws.

Ms Bishop, who is also the opposition workplace relations spokeswoman, said the position had been endorsed unanimously by the shadow cabinet and the joint party room.

"The coalition will not oppose the passage of Labor's workplace relations bill introduced on the 13th of February through the house," she told reporters today.

Mr Nelson and Ms Bishop, with support from some business lobby groups, had argued since the federal election that the Rudd government did not have a mandate to abolish AWAs.

However, it is now almost certain that the rollback of the WorkChoices reforms, introduced in 2005, will also include the removal of AWAs, which were first introduced in 1996.

Ms Bishop said the government's legislation had already been referred to a Senate committee.

"I can't pre-empt the Senate committee but given what the coalition position is in the house, you can have an expectation that there will be a similar position in the Senate, subject to the Senate inquiry."

Ms Bishop said she will propose two amendments to Labor's Bill to ensure it provided fairness and flexibility in the workplace.

The federal opposition would move to extend the expiry date of new individual contracts directly negotiated between employees and employers, she said.

"The amendment I propose to move in the house is that the nominal expiry date of Labor's individual agreements be extended to five years," Ms Bishop said.

"This will give certainty to employers and employees, particularly those that are involved in longer term projects, as well as enable Labor to move more quickly on its substantive legislation to set up its new regime."

Labor's no disadvantage test would apply to the new individual contracts, Ms Bishop said.

 

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