Don't vote for 'Labor lite', vote for the real thing: Shorten

by Stephanie Zillman14 Jun 2013

One of the last scheduled IR debates prior to the federal election took place in Melbourne on Friday – HC was there to catch the action. The instructions put to workplace relations minister Bill Shorten and shadow minister Senator Eric Abetz were clear. No 'winner' would be declared, stick to the time limit, and don't denigrate one another – but that's not politics.

With a coin toss, the 2013 Lander & Rogers Workplace Relations Debate was off, and no punches were pulled. For Minister Shorten, the current laws are working well. He labelled the coalition's recently announced policy a reproduction of the Fair Work Act. “Don't vote for Labor 'lite', vote for the real product. We do Labor better than they do Labor!” Shorten told the packed room.

A key point of contention was the issue of penalty rates. Under a coalition government, it has been indicated that a review of penalty rates may be on the cards, despite the Labor government repeatedly rejecting calls from business groups to do so. On this point, Shorten was emphatic. “The future of Australia doesn't depend on cutting people's wages, and the lowest paid workers at that. It just doesn't. If you start cutting people's wages, who on Earth is going to shop in your shops?” Shorten said today.

Union power and industrial action was also a key point of debate, and Abetz repeated rhetoric that the coalition was steadfast against the “strike first, talk later” mentality in industrial relations. Abetz added that a coalition government would be firm in its commitment to roll back right-of-entry provisions for union officials. Shorten denied that union officials have unchecked power to enter job sites and meet with their members. “Union officials cannot go into a workplace and disrupt the productivity. They have the ability to meet during meal times, and speak to their members in meal rooms,” Shorten said.

Shorten also argued that despite myriad comments made by the opposition that the “dead and buried” Work Choices legislation would have no future in their workplace relations policy, he was not convinced. He rejected the 'light' version of the workplace relations policy put forward by Abetz, and said he believed the coalition had hidden future plans which involved winding back penalty rates. “We have been upfront with the Australian people and that's why we've released our policy so early,” Abetz countered.

The federal election will be held on September 14.


  • by Chris Golis 14/06/2013 5:08:42 PM

    According to Shorten the current industrial relations laws are working well. Why then according to the NAB business survey are business confidence and capital expenditure at their lowest value for four years and employment trending downwards. This Labor government has shattered business confidence and the only reason Australia is holding up is because of the earlier decisions made by the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments.

  • by Tara 14/06/2013 7:17:45 PM

    Current industrial relations laws are stifting business. Business go through cycles and need flexibility. Now they think twice before hiring and cant expand and contract to adapt to changing market conditions. Not good for employment and economy in general.

  • by Action Required 15/06/2013 7:41:16 AM

    Perhaps Mr Shorten, should take a massive pay cut by at least 70% and live on the wage that most of every day people have to try and live on each week. And why are the current unemployment numbers incorrect.....Shame on you, there is more unemployment then shown in the so called numbers list and Business confidence is down, down, down. Get a real job Mr Shorten and see how it feels to live on the average wage that you expect every day folks to live on and put an action in place to support business's to employ people, the people and business's of Australia have been let down by your Government, but of course when you leave your job, you will still get the benefits from the every day people of Australia and the Business's that you have not supported. I do believe that when you lose government, you should also lose 'your benefits' like everyone !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shouldn't we, the Australian people have a say in what you should be paid ? Put your pay rate to the Australian People to vote on !!!!!!! Oh no, that's right you control your own pay rate.....Shame, Shame.

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