Bill's Media Releases

High Time For Real Workplace Relations Debate

What on earth does Tony Abbott mean when he says “sensible centre”?

Today at the Minerals Council of Australia’s lunch seminar in Canberra the Leader of the Opposition said this:

“We will bring the workplace relations pendulum back from where this Government has placed it into the sensible centre and we will do everything we humanly can to try to reduce the red tape burden under which you labour.”

But there has never been a middle ground for Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party on workplace relations.

For example, when you hear the Liberals talk about workplace relations, do you ever hear the words ‘balance’ or ‘fairness’ used?   No you don’t.

There is nothing sensible about stripping back awards and removing safety net provisions.

What is sensible about scrapping redundancy pay, or long service leave, or penalty rates for overtime, holidays, weekends and shift work, or getting rid of rest breaks or rights to be consulted about changes in the workplace?

What is sensible about junking any of these things?

Under the Liberals’ last attempt at a workplace relations policy in the first six months we saw:

  • 70% of AWAs excluding shift work loadings

  • 68% excluding annual leave loadings

  • 65% excluding penalty rates

  • 89% excluding at least one of the Liberals ‘so called’ protected award conditions


On workplace relations Tony Abbott keeps talking in generalities – and that is very concerning.

Especially if he is now feeling more emboldened, as his party room colleagues have briefed newspaper journalists only last week.

But with the Coalition and workplace relations the devil is always in the detail.

Voters deserve to know when Tony Abbott will bring his policy out of witness protection.

If it’s good enough for Tony Abbott to tell his party room about being emboldened and confident on workplace relations reform it should be good enough to tell the Australian public.

So let’s hear their plans.

What do they intend to do on unfair dismissal?  What do they intend to do on weekend penalty rates?  What would they do about rostering provisions in workplace agreements?  What would they do about rest breaks and long service leave?

I will debate Mr Abbott anywhere, anytime on workplace relations.

The Gillard Government has a balanced legal framework and an expert review process of the Act being completed right now.

We have announced reforms on registered organisations and will be introducing related amendments into the Parliament tomorrow.

We have new ideas on improving productivity, empowering workplaces and the future of work.

And we are creating jobs.

Yet what have we got so far from the Liberals? --- No details, just rhetoric about flexibility, militancy and productivity.

Instead of sprinting away from his day job as he did this morning, Tony Abbott should man up and have the argument.

Mr Shorten’s Media Contact: Sam Casey 0421 697 660