19/12/2007 - 22:00

Momentous year ends a bit flat

19/12/2007 - 22:00


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The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Momentous year ends a bit flat

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

There was much rhetoric about Labor leader Kevin Rudd’s so-called ‘me-too’ policies in the lead up to his federal election win on November 24.

That day he swept aside 11 years of Liberal Party rule with promises to change little – with the exception of John Howard’s industrial relations laws and the Liberal position on Kyoto.

Less than a month after that event, the new landscape really does look like the old one.

While Mr Rudd has ratified Kyoto, Australia remains on the conservative side of the emission targets debate.

Australia’s position is that it supports the science behind a 24 to 40 per cent cut in emission by 2020 but wants to examine the economic impact before agreeing to any target – hardly a revolution in thinking compared with the previous government.

On the subject of industrial relations the situation is a little more complicated, but not much.

Having painted the Liberal government’s Australian Workplace Agreements as the worst of all evils during the long and drawn-out election campaign, the reality in Western Australia is that it’s business as usual.

Allowing existing AWAs to run their course, as well as letting new ones to be created without any threat of rollback, suggests a softly-softly approach on this subject.

The mining industry, earlier horrified at the idea of AWAs disappearing, has quietly got on with the job since finding some appeasement from Labor six months ago. No-one from government or industry wants to slow the resources gravy train, which will be funding all those promises from the election.

In some ways, the long-term killing off of AWAs happened when the previous government altered the WorkChoices legislation. Many in the industrial relations business found the new AWAs held no advantage over dealing with awards.

While some uncertainty remains at the margins, and the building industry braces for a return to militarism, for much of the business community its hard to pick the difference in government – yet.


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