For the past few years, the Federal Opposition, the union movement, the Greens and folks from various other quarters have used the WorkChoices package as a flag to rally around in opposition to the Howard Government. In political terms, this purportedly “pro-flexibilityâ€? but unashamedly “pro-businessâ€? package of reforms gave credence to the possibility that the Labor Opposition could finally wrench back federal control from the Liberal / National Coalition. Put simply, the idea that WorkChoices would hurt ordinary Australian families was gaining some traction, ably assisted by some example cases (e.g. Spotlight, Cowra abbatoir workers) made highly visible by the union movement and the media.

As Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley famously pledged to rip up the WorkChoices legislation. Not withstanding the likelihood that Beazley would inflict himself with some truly grievous paper cuts on the floor of the House of Representatives, there were murmurs from some within the Labor Party that this was too strong a stance. Concerns about alienating business and/or reinstituting the infamously unsuccessful “rollbackâ€? approach to policy marketing were certainly not unfounded. New Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd’s language in relation to WorkChoices started becoming decidedly more furtive and restrained, while his star continued to soar in the polls.

We have all been waiting to hear what the Labor Party will actually advocate for the country’s industrial relations system heading into this year’s election campaign, and after yesterday’s National Press Club speech [PDF] by Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd we have a pretty good idea.

It will certainly not please everyone.

Reading through the transcript of Rudd’s speech, one gets a sense that the Opposition Leader is trying to deliver a fundamentally mixed message. On the one hand, Labor’s anti-WorkChoices rhetoric remains strong. Rudd re-iterates Labor’s pledge to “get ridâ€? of the government’s industrial relations package and labels the laws repeatedly as “unfairâ€?.

On the other hand, it is difficult to ignore the fact that while Labor remains committed to repealing the WorkChoices legislation, it appears no longer committed to rejecting the political gist of the legislation in entirety. Under a prospective Rudd Labor Government, employees employed by businesses with less than 15 staff would not have recourse to the unfair dismissal claims system until they have been there for at least one year. For those employed by a business with more than 15 staff, recourse to the unfair dismissal claims system would not be available unless they have been employed for six months. It’s hard not to see these proposals as a wink and a nod to the business community, at the expense of workers rights.

Excepting this controversial new approach to unfair dismissals, there were a few more key announcements from Rudd yesterday. Firstly, Federal Labor is proposing a new national industrial relations system, and will not hand control back to the states. This was something of a given. Secondly, AWAs will be abolished by a Rudd Labor Government, and as Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Julia Gillard described last night on Lateline, existing workers with AWAs will be allowed to complete the current term of their agreement before moving to another “industrial instrumentâ€?. This is a good defensive strategy with which to fend off accusations that the abolition of AWAs would create chaos.

Thirdly, under a Rudd Labor Government, a secret ballot would be required before industrial strikes can be called by workers. This proposal is somewhat pro-business but is also pro-democracy; certainly I think the possibility exists that union members may sometimes feel pressured to vote a certain way when ballots are held publicly.

Finally, a new independent umpire will be established to set the national minimum wage and to arbitrate in relation to unfair dismissal claims. The new unfair dismissal system proposed by Labor purports to be “lawyer-freeâ€?, and also somewhat decentralised, with local offices established to better meet the needs of regional and rural businesses. A “fair dismissal codeâ€? will be developed in consultation with small business that clearly establishes the guidelines that employers should follow when considering the dismissal of employees.

So in summing up, there is certainly a lot to chew over in the announcements that Labor made yesterday. I am personally unsure as to whether to be disappointed by Labor’s watering down of their stance or impressed that Rudd is really trying his darnedest to take both business and the unions (e.g. everyone) along with him. Probably both.

These two alternate perspectives are no doubt well represented out there amongst the broader left. Just looking at the top two blogs on the blogroll at Polemica, Anonymous Lefty has already had a bit of a go at Labor over its capitulation (in some respects) to the business lobby. Meanwhile, Armagnac has felt the need to break his blogging silence to suggest that Rudd’s announcements are a “potential masterstrokeâ€? – with Labor positioned well to pull in left preferences if not always primary votes, and to pull a few supporters away from the Liberal/National camp.

But I am certainly interested in hearing all your views, and how everyone thinks this will impact Rudd’s chances later this year. Is it folly or genius to try to half or three-quarter appease everyone in this way?

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  1. Christine Keeler says:

    As far as AWAs are concerned, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem because WA provided the model for ditching the damned things when the Gallop government was elected. The big exception was the mining industry, but to some it was an arguable case so that teachers, nurses, public servants and just about everyone else could be rid of them.

  2. Russell says:

    I think it’s about right, politically. The voters Labor needs to attract want some improvements but nothing too radical: this offers a bit more fairness without scaring people who don’t want too much change.

  3. Guy says:

    The reaction from the ACTU has been interesting. It’s obvious that they haven’t quite got what they wanted from Rudd in relation to workers rights, but their support for Federal Labor’s proposed package is pretty unqualified.

    Doesn’t this undermine their position?

  4. David Rubie says:

    For me it’s a net positive. I was suspicious of Rudd at the beginning, but if he has the ability (and nous) to propose and then implement a set of policies that take most of the fangs out of WorkChoices while keeping the positives (homogenised labour laws) then it can only be a good thing. The biggest risk he has now is that the libs will dump Howard before the election so they’ve got some room to move on WC – I think this is highly unlikely given the unpalatability of the rest of the Liberal front bench.
    One good thing that has come out of WorkChoices – it made me view the unions far more generously (to the point where I joined).

  5. Calculus says:

    Onya comrade David. Welcome to the family.

    It was fun to watch the business lobby hacks suggest that Rudd’s extremely minor changes to WorkChoices would be the ruin of the economy. While Labor will dump AWAs they will ensure that there’s still a mechanism to provide flexibility where required, and the re-inclusion of unfair dismissal provisions will be very generous to employers.

    It’s also interesting that with AWAs covering only a small portion of workers and the full impact of WorkChoices still not apparent that Labor’s changes will even dint the excessive (and in some cases obscene) profit increases that businesses are enjoying

  6. Christine Keeler says:

    The biggest risk he has now is that the libs will dump Howard before the election…

    It would be just like the bastards to deprive us of the much anticipated joys of Whacking Day

  7. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Industrial action outlawed except where there’s a secret ballot? Someone needs to tell the trade union movement that their future’s not with the federal ALP, if they’re going to bend over and take this one so eagerly. Where was the necessity for Rudd to yoink what would have been far-right policy as late as the early 1990s? Where are the masses of rolling strikes, crippling the country, threatening the peaceable citizens, stopping public services and threatening civilisation, that would have made a move like this make a lick of sense?

    This proposal is somewhat pro-business but is also pro-democracy…

    What a bunch of nineteenth-century Tory bullshit, with respect, Guy. Forcing ballots before industrial action can be taken is a traditional policy designed to prevent industrial action or go-slows, and push industrial disputes into the civil and criminal courts, out of industrial ones. Employers who lock out their staff or break agreements are never going to be in any danger of arrest, as ‘illegal’ strikers will presumably be.
    I’ll appreciate the ‘democracy’ of outlawing industrial action when employers are prohibited from locking out their workforces, forcing them onto standardised individual contracts or AWAs under the threat of sacking, or re-employing new workforces en masse.

  8. professor rat says:

    While steering a middle course is not a bad idea Kevin Rudd is a bum steer for any Labor party worthy of the name. If they can’t even stick up for their own right not to be dismissed – without one frikkin seconds notice btw! – then why would anyone believe a word k-rudd say?

    Twice now democratic socialist governments have been sacked without one seconds notice. Kevin ‘the messiah’ Rudd will now manfully promise to take it up the arse once again. Whoopty fucking doo.

    Third times a charm for the bananas boy born in a Manger halfway between a Kingaroy burnt peanut farm and a fishwife’s shop at Ipswich. You want to suck up Howard lites arse?

    Go ahead brownshirts. You national socialists make me sick.

  9. John Greenfield says:

    This whole backflip so early in the piece, even before the Conference, the budget, and even the calling of the election, does not augur well for any person who holds left of centre politics. Sustaining the sunny reviews of Rudd’s announcement is a large component of “Useful Idiot” Syndrome.

    I suspect Rudd will be relying heavily on UIS as his neoconservative policy world unfolds over the coming months.

  10. amused says:

    Exactly FdG. The devil is in the detail. Fortunately, lazy journalists from the MSM don’t have time for detail, and nor do they bother with the realities of the things they report on. They’ve never heard of lockouts to force people onto individual contracts, because they think an offer that includes Salary sacrifice for paying the school fees and a little neg. gearing for the beach house, is simply the way everybody gets paid. I’m just lov’n it, because their cluelessness is so obvious to anybody who isn’t Paul, Michelle, Dennis, Janet, Piers, Andrew, Steve, little Matty Price and the rest of them. It’s amazing reading and watching people who so obviously just never leave their keyboards, let alone talk to anybody who doesn’t earn $100k plus a year.

    The effect of not having to go out, and actually mix with the hoi polloi to do your reporting is becoming obvious, as is the effect on the quality of ‘reporting’ (if one call it that), of not having someone who actually specialises, and knows something about, the issues on which they report. It’s like having a agoraphobic write pieces on travels across the Gobi desert. It lacks the essential qualities of closeness to topic, and engagement with the experience: consequently it lacks conviction and credbility. Great stuff boys and girls-keep it up.

  11. Guy says:

    Fiasco – as I have outlined, Rudd is obviously trying to implement a pragmatic policy that has something in it for both business and the unions. The secret ballot notion is obviously a carrot for the business lobby. I don’t think anybody is denying that. Having said that, I’m not sure why having the workers themselves decide whether or not a strike should occur is a bad thing?

    The fact that as you mention, there haven’t been massive instances of rolling strikes in recent times probably suggests that having workers “secretly” vote on whether or not to strike isn’t going to make that much difference.

    Also not sure how calling the idea “somewhat pro-business” and “pro-democracy” is 19th century Tory bullshit, as you say.

  12. Lang Mack says:

    I think that having Rudd and the Unions in a dust up every so often would seal the downfall of Howard.

  13. FDB says:

    “It would be just like the bastards to deprive us of the much anticipated joys of Whacking Day”

    Gold CK. I’m thinking of running up some shirts for election day now. With a Punch-style cartoon of Lil’ Ratty being pummeled with a cudgel marked “comeuppance”.

  14. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Guy, workers already decide for themselves whether or not to go on strike. They’re already punishable in the criminal courts if they do it wrong, facing sanctions including prison time—that’s right now.
    Increasing the number of scenarios under which workers can be criminally or civilly liable for industrial action, while not making it more difficult for employers to take industrial action is a needless knuckle-under.
    In short: I say fuck the ‘business’ lobby, they only get as many votes as the rest of us do.
    I don’t fault Rudd for doing it, he’s just acting as a FPLP leader on the path to office, but I do say that the ACTU and Labor-affiliated unions should start to think seriously about their organisational future with the ALP at a Federal level, especially if IR powers are going to reside more and more with the Commonwealth. An Australian 21st century might be better served with a non-labourist Social Democratic Party in Parliament, and trade unions organising for workers/members entirely extra-parliamentarily.
    To clarify, finally: calling strike ballots pro-democracy isn’t the bullshit, it’s the strike ballots themselves that could have sprung from the minds of nineteenth-century anti-unionists. They’re designed to prevent, not encourage, the participation of workers in the democratic running of their workplaces.
    Amused, on your comments on journalists’ ideas of IR: nailed it.

  15. Personally, I pretty much agree with Fiasco da Gama, as I’ve been arguing on the other thread.

    But, being cynically analytical, this is a clever move by Rudd that will probably pay off. He’s already got the business lobby upset, (including “Employers First” – now there’s a good name to make employees think you’ve got their interests at heart!).

    If Rudd can get some recalcitrant Left unions to argue loudly against him at the upcoming National Conference, he’ll be perfectly placed to say:

    Well, if we’re being attacked by radicals from both sides, we must be getting it about right.

  16. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Yes, I’ve been reading on the other thread how cleverly you’ve anticipated and reproduced in advance my excellent arguments about outlawing strikes, David J. 🙂
    I don’t think I do agree with you on one point though—the strike isn’t nearly as important a feature of industrial relations as you seem to make out. I’m entirely in favour of getting IR negotiations as much as possible out of the civil courts, and of removing it entirely from the criminal courts forever, and it’s for that reason I think the concept of outlawing strikes and mandating compulsory ballots is totally counterproductive. You can’t make a system ‘lawyer free’ and keep the nasty sharp legal tools so conveniently to hand!
    Especially in the suggestion about dedicated workplace-visiting mediators, Rudd’s proposals aren’t too bad.

  17. observa says:

    You would have thought the dickheads would have made their unfair dismissals triggers 7 months and 13 months for temporary contract simplicity now wouldn’t you. Typical!

  18. philip travers says:

    My small place name philosophy about IR laws wont be forthcoming…I get a buzz out of talking to people wether they are bosses or workers.Sometimes the insights are the exact same,only the relationship because of being the payer and payee is different.Workers I will say will remain unimpressed and vote Labor.Being a respected worker,will become more important under Labor as resistance to them,and who knows the bosses may need that resistance.Rudd must be boring the pants off business people too,and their only recourse to action is to claim their IR laws wont work.There is no doubting the fact,that workers pay at the low end is ridiculous,yet it is quite possible to think of circumstances where a boss may want to borrow workers and pay them at a high wage.This folly from economists today to have a HECS fee for tech students,is a s stupid as it gets,for skilled workers there is now great pain.I heard today how much a motor mechanic was being paid,and a girl straight out of school was being paid three dollars more than him for doing retail work.Three kids and fully qualified!?I could cry,Rudd is nowhere.

  19. rog says:

    It shows the overall success of the govt’s IR policy when the ALP have moved to accomodate it in their own policy (albeit with some changes) and similarly the ACTU offer grudging support. Previous declarations of unwinding and abandoning WC have been discarded, obviously WC does have some merits.

    The NSW govt have already refused to join the national scheme and the bit about simpifying the BAS was laughable, it is already very simple.

    Once the details are thrashed out in parliament and the election campaign there wont be too much left to vote on.

  20. Tony says:

    Having lived through Tony Blair’s “New Labor” shift to the right in the late 1990s in England, I can see that Rudd will win the next federal election. But just like England, the conservative legacy will never be wiped from the brow of the average worker. Labour=Liberal. Two parties, one brush, sharing the same tub of tar.

  21. Mark says:

    I do say that the ACTU and Labor-affiliated unions should start to think seriously about their organisational future with the ALP at a Federal level, especially if IR powers are going to reside more and more with the Commonwealth. An Australian 21st century might be better served with a non-labourist Social Democratic Party in Parliament, and trade unions organising for workers/members entirely extra-parliamentarily.

    I’m very inclined to agree with FdG.

    The current debate, for instance, would play out very differently, and I think to better advantage for both the ALP and unions.

    The amount of energy invested by some union officials in ALP factional politics can significantly detract from what unions’ key role actually is.

    I suspect the union movement would enjoy both more legitimacy and more political clout.

  22. Christine Keeler says:

    Oh come on Mark, what would a waste of space like Bill Ludwig do with himself?

  23. Mark says:

    He could get a job as a staffer for his son the Senator?

    Kinda makes the point, doesn’t it?

  24. Christine Keeler says:

    What a dynamo team that would be.

  25. Mark says:

    Or take a job as CEO of a brown cardigan manufacturing plant and fight for protection all round for the workers?

  26. Christine Keeler says:

    Brilliant idea. He could sponsor celebrity models like Greg Shridan.

  27. Mark says:

    Hendo could lend some grouper chic.

  28. Christine Keeler says:

    Johnny might be looking for something to do in a few months. This sort of cutting-edge sunrise industry could be just up his street.

  29. Mark says:

    Yes, I believe his elder brother had some business experience as chair of the board of a clothing manufacturing company…

  30. Christine Keeler says:

    Have to keep an eye on the petty cash though.

  31. Kevin Rudd says:

    I agree the Unions have to have less power of the ALP.

    What’s more, they need to engage in customer service and marketing.

    Unions are a service industry. Why not act as one to capture more customers ?

    Less of a political ladder, more of a service industry.

  32. Nabakov says:

    I’m takinga wild guess here that the previous commenter here is not the actual Kevin Rudd.

    None the less, I’d to like hear the real Kevin Rudd, or anyone in the union movement, expand upon the points above. Union super funds are working a treat – why not extend the list of services beyond that?

    Hands up who’d think a bank instead of a Union fund would be more sympatico about home loan problems?

    The sure fire way to influence someone’s voting intentions is to become an indispensable and trustworthy big buddy for all major financial, legal and governmental interactions.

    No one trusts governments, banks or professionals like lawyers anymore about this kind of thing. Time to capitalise of the goodwill and sturdy performance of union super funds.

    Disclaimer: I have a solid six figures tucked away in a union super fund and it has performed very nicely over the last decade – quite comparable to my family’s various unit trust shenanigans.

  33. Nabakov says:

    Yo larva rodeoists! I left what I thought was a fairly temperate comment by my (admittedly flimsy) standards on this thread QUITE A WHILE AGO.

    And it is where?

    All I did was talk about union super funds. Not like I mentioned Lolita Fuck Squads or anything.

  34. Nabakov says:

    LP’s spam bitch software is clearly a whimisical beast.

  35. Ken Lovell says:

    The old award system is in an odd condition, it continues to apply but awards can no longer be changed by the Industrial Relations Commission. The Fair Pay Commission is supposed to do something with them sooner or later, I can’t be bothered looking it up. Labor intends to get rid of the FPC but is silent about the future of the award system.

    Since unions now cover less than a fifth of the workforce the scope for workers to be covered by collective agreements is obviously limited. That means that most workers will have to rely on their individual common law contracts of employment, plus any standards set by either a common rule award or by legislation. Until we know how all this is supposed to work it’s impossible to evaluate how a new system will affect the majority of people. Talking about unfair dismissals, secret ballots and so on is all very interesting but they only affect a comparative handful of workers. Most people want to know whether they will still get penalty rates, sick leave, an incremental wage scale and the like, but unless I’ve missed something the ALP’s policy is silent on these matters.

  36. amused says:

    Most people want to know whether they will still get penalty rates, sick leave, an incremental wage scale and the like, but unless I’ve missed something the ALP’s policy is silent on these matters.

    So far it is, and you are right, those are the things that are fundamental to people. as I understand the it, the final list has not been arrived at yet, but it does include public holiday pay, penalty rates for weekends, and overtime. Presumably provisions would be legislated as some kind of ‘minima’ and then if the award was better, you would be entitled to the award, and if you struck an agreement, it would have to meet the no disadvantage test’ of the legislated minima. All very interesting, and a very good thing that the whole boiling will be a national system. Might give old Bill Ludwig a myocardial infarction, but hey, sometimes you have to break an egg to make an omelette. More interestingly, it will over time, weaken the power and strength of the State ALP Branches, something I am sure Rudd is keenly aware of, and not sorry to do.

  37. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Super funds? Financial alternatives? Way to get the union’s inspiration running through the workers’ veins, Nabakov.
    Ken Lovell’s right. Make Kevin Rudd say the simple words “Time And A Half On Saturdays, Double Time On Sundays” and he’ll absolutely piss the election in.

  38. Guy says:

    I’m very inclined to agree with FdG.

    Same here. The party leadership and the unions have clearly negotiated a truce on industrial relations here, but in some respects it makes the unions look weak. I suspect it’s all about trying to get Labor elected federally and then pushing the party a bit harder afterwards, but I don’t think its a good look for them at the moment.

  39. observa says:

    “Time And A Half On Saturdays, Double Time On Sundaysâ€?
    Trouble is, it’s all very well to promise the earth, but sooner or later you’ll have to deliver in that globalised world and with those poll figures, who needs the hassle?

  40. Fiasco da Gama says:

    That’s ‘the Earth’? Holy Sunshine Harvester, I’d hate to think what you’d call reasonable pay and conditions, obbs.

  41. observa says:

    It’s the earth compared to what Chinese workers get FdG and anyway, how on earth do you square union determined wages and penalty rates with mom and dad businesses, particularly in the retail/hospitality game? It’s nonsensical. So is the notion that we could all join one big union and award ourselves a big fat wage rise, but that never stopped unions talking such nonsense. Me, I’m not allowed to collude on price by law. Go figure.

  42. Fiasco da Gama says:

    It’s nonsensical.

    Fair day’s work, fair day’s pay. Weekend work, weekend pay. Crazy, I know.

  43. Calculus says:

    Observa, are we really competing with the chinese. If we had a government that wasn’t willing to rely only on what’s under the ground that what’s in the collective brains of Australians then we’d be competing with the Finns, Danes, Germans and Japanese in generating new, highly specialised industries that fit the 21st century. By trying to get in front of the field we can create an economy that pays the best well and provides for a reasonably safe IR system for those down the food chain

  44. observa says:

    Yeah, if only all those unionised workers out for a weekend feed would patronise weekend wage, unionised restaurants eh?

  45. Andyc says:

    Ken Lovell: “Since unions now cover less than a fifth of the workforce the scope for workers to be covered by collective agreements is obviously limited…”

    Not at all. Unions negotitate the terms of a collective agreement. Anyone, union member or not, is then free to take advantage of it. That’s how things are at the moment. Of course, management may exert pressure on members and non-members to go for AWA’s instead, but that is a totally different issue.

    One of the main reasons that union membership has dropped is that non-members are legally required to have access to the pay and perks of the collective agreement (i.e, are encouraged to freeload). As collective agreements expire and are replaced by emasculated travesties, and the relative nastiness of AWA’s becomes more widely experienced, people may take a more active interest in membership again, to fight to regain what they have allowed to slip away. The additional counselling/financial/legal/social services provided by unions are evidently not enough in themselves to make membership attractive, unfortunately.

  46. BearCave says:

    I refuse to get too much into the detail, limiting myself to a WorkChoices Special inside Law Institute Journal (April’07).

    I prefer to get a handle of the big picture for now, reflected in feature serial writings on my blog, namely ‘The Wet Economic Six Pack’.

    Yes, that’s the term ‘wet’ as once used in the context of wet versus dry economic debate in the 1970s during Malcom Fraser’s time (which you can learn about by listening to last week’s Hindsight program on ABC Radio).

    I wish to use the same term in a new, modern context because I dispute the idea that conservative economics (what I label ‘dry’) should be allowed to go unchallenged.

    Consider what’s written by Scott Prasser in this morning’s edition of The Australian:

    “Australia is on a one-way street of more deregulation, market-based reforms, greater global integration and less welfarism. The only issue is the pace of change, not the destination.

    Notwithstanding its wailing about Howard’s “market fundamentalism”, Labor has no real alternatives.”

    Yet some things do not change with time. With or without traditional ideological foundations, political parties still have to “position” themselves against opponents.

    Consider Ed’s claim in yesterday’s Oz which suggests:

    “Without its union affiliations, Labor would have to become a true social democrat party.”

    This suggests a movement from “class struggle thinking” to a “rainbow coalition of thinking about society”, an outcome Labor MP Craig Emerson has warned his party against.

    The right “positioning” for Labor falls in between the two extremes – a concept I call “personal development as the destination and relationship-building as the means of getting there”.

    This should be the heart of the matter for a new “wet economics”:

    “Management of Environment and Systems”.

    Management of Environment (you find your relationships “out there” in the macro and micro environments) and Systems (developing a response to the forces in your environment).

    It’s also “Management of…” because it is a problem-solving process on a personal level.

    It should be noted that I’m using the language of “project management” as a substitute to the language of “pure economics”.

    …From Justin.

  47. paul says:

    The Australian’s coverage yesterday of Rudd’s announcement was remarkable, even by Murdoch standards – I wrote a brief analysis which may be of some interest here.

    I must say from a less objective point of view Labor is walking a very fine line with their attitude that they will get ‘left’ preferences automatically – the temptation to donkey vote to teach them a lesson about not turning into British New Labor is growing. The dismay of the left (and I would think, the right in terms of the hardcore union-types) has received little to no attention in the coverage of this announcement.

  48. mark says:

    We are now simply labour, human resources, irritating but necessary factors in the bottom line. Expendable input with lack of true, fulfilling employment fudged into statistics that make the latest ABS propaganda look optimistic.
    “Did you earn any money last year?”
    Um, yes, I mowed my neighbors lawn for twenty bucks.
    “Great! Congratulations! you are now officially a net gain contributor to the statistical version of our Great Economy – no childcare or free uni by the way, piss off”

    Anyone care to read the details of the US/Aust Free Trade Agreement?
    Now note the irony of accepting Cuban refugees. Not many, but the symbolism of Florida sweat shops and working for nothing in order to “be free in a democracy” shouldn’t be lost. Swimming to work would be the last straw – but some might just do it to make an example of us lazy Aussies.

    Now Mr Sheen is meeting with Rupert to ensure the fascist punditry is at least tempered in it’s acceptance of the coming Rudd (Howard Lite) regime of resolving Iraq, on our side of the ocean at least, and fine tuning the corporate-driven IR laws.
    The only rollback is on the principles Labor once stood for. Even the baldy ostrich with a sore foot Midnight Oiler has been co-opted.
    I feel giddy at the prospect of voting for more of the same – but at least the current little turd won’t be carping at me every time the news comes on.
    Viva la Revolucion!

  49. steve says:

    Seems that Howard will have to argue against his own policy during the election campaign. That should be a fun thing to see! Wonder if all the business groups that supported it then still support it now.

  50. pablo says:

    Rudd better get ready for a rough ride on his new IR compromise. The swift decline of Queensland and NSW to join him in opting for a Federal takeover of all awards was one indication of this.
    Now the Fair Pay Commission’s decision to publish all award pay rates is likely to unleash a wave of resentment from workers who find out how their real pay rates compare. Rudd’s compromise may not meet the smell test with many non-unionised but habitual ALP voters.

  51. Megan says:

    Very nice information. Thanks for this.its great to see someone with a like mind.

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