Monday, November 07, 2005

Keeping the Bastards Honest

Senator Andrew Bartlett

Senator Andrew Bartlett of Queensland has put forward a request for Senate Submissions for the recent Howard Governments 1200 page Industrial Relations legislation, tabled last Tuesday, allowing seven days for submisions to be lodged.

You can lodge your concerns here at the ACTU Your Rights at Work Senate Submission page.

As Andrew says:

Politically and morally corrupt government

At the risk of further opening myself up to charges of sedition, I should mention the new workplace relations laws which were finally made public last Wednesday, November 2nd. There is a Senate Committee Inquiry into the proposed law, but the full process of allowing public submissions, public hearings and consideration of the law is required to be finished by 22nd November (yes that’s less than three weeks).

If you have any views about the new law, it is a good idea to send a submission in to the Senate Inquiry - if only to show that you wish to have your views heard by the Parliament. Unfortunately, submissions close on on 9th November, so you better be quick. The absurdly short amount of time for the Committee to examine legislation that makes the biggest changes to workplace law in 100 years is a scandal – a corrupt process which befits a government which has already seen fit to steal millions dollars of taxpayers’ money (over 50 million at last count) to pay for advertising propaganda aimed at covering up the real content and impact of this law.

However, if this were not bad enough, one key aspect of the inquiry which seems to have occured without any comment is the severe curtailing of the Inquiry’s ability to examine a whole range of pivotal issues. In the process of forcing the Senate to accept this truncated inquiry, the Government also added the following requirement:

“The inquiry not consider those elements of the bill …… which relate to secret ballots, suspension/termination of a bargaining period; pattern bargaining; cooling off periods; remedies for unprotected industrial action; removal of section 166A of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (the WR Act); strike pay; reform of unfair dismissal arrangements; right of entry; award simplification; freedom of association; amendments to section 299 of the WR Act; and civil penalties for officers of organisations regarding breaches.”

So not only is there less than three weeks for the Committee to do its full inquiry, but central compentents of the law are supposedly not to be considered by the inquiry, on the spurious grounds that these matters have been looked at before by previous inquiries. (which is true, but they were not looked at in the context of other changes also being made which would (a) completely alter and overturn the whole nature of the law and (b) bring vastly increased numbers of people under its reach).

The intellectually bankruptcy of this notion is so comprehensive it would be hilarious, were the process not so morally and politically corrupt, and the personal consequences for millions of people not so damaging.


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