IR Reforms Show Coalition's True Colours

The Australian Goverment's proposed industrial relations reforms, which they have called "work choices" (you've got to admire the Orwellian synchrinocity of the moniker) may be one of the worst things to ever happen to the average Australian. Now, I've often labelled things that the Howard government has done as being dreadful for Australia. When they were first elected, shortly before my 17th birthday, I wrote a long, impassioned essay in my diary (no blogger in 1996!) about how dreadful it all was. I debated with myself as to whether I should transcribe that essay here, but decided against it; it's poorly written and rather banal, and in any case, at that age I was capable of only abstract criticism, not cohesive analysis. But I do remember, several months after that election, when our local Medicare office had been closed, massive job cuts had been announced at the ABC, and in the public service, and it generally seemed like Australia was going to hell in a Prada backback (that joke made sense in the mid 1990s, trust me) saying to my mother "Since the Liberals were elected, it seems like things are worse than they've ever been."

If only we knew.

The provisions of the Work Choices legislation - no matter what their website says - mean scary times ahead for the average worker. The main point for me, is that workers, instead of being protected by union awards, will now have to sign "workplace agreements" to negotiate their working conditions. Howard has said no worker can be sacked for refusing to sign an agreement, or refusing to agree to the conditions laid down by their employer...but he's also said that if an employee doesn't like the terms of their agreement, they can always look for another job. (Does anyone else hear the adolescent echoes of "While you're under my roof...and if you don't like it, you can move out"?) Where are we supposed to go?

There was another little detail of Howard's comments I found almost charming, in reassuring us of the 1950s mentality we've come to expect from little Johnny. When an interviewer put it to Howard, that younger employees may be too intimidated to negotiate workplace agreements, Howard said (sic), "There's no reason why the [younger employees] couldn't take a lawyer, or their father, or older brother to the negotiations." (I guess Mum won't cut it, huh John? And notice that he didn't say they might bring a union delegate!)

Of course, we can always rely on Clarke and Dawes, and their segment on Thursday night's
7:30 Report for a spookily accurate light touch on the Government. Here's their take on this legislation...

Well you can read more on these legislative changes if you like (lord knows, I've given enough links). Though I ask you to please sign this to register your disapproval.

But it gets lots worse. The government are also trying to introduce anti-terrorism legislation that includes unprecendented governmental proposals in terms of stop-and-search powers, racial profiling, and even (until it was
blocked by the state premiers a shoot-to-kill provision. Clarke and Dawes, again...

And what's more - what's perhaps the worst - the Government was attempting to introduce these Bills on Melbourne Cup day itself, and the next day.
I weep for the sorry state of the
federal opposition, but they've made a pertinent observation in accusing the government of being drunk with power in attempting to do this, and I have to agree. Since the 2004 election, when they gained control of the senate, there's been no checks or balances on the Government and I think most of us lefties are afraid; afraid of what Howard and his ilk will do, afraid that Labor cannot possibly manage an election win in 2007. John Howard will have to retire eventually, and that will leave us all under the evil empire of the Smirk...

One last thing.
I don't believe in compulsory voting. I believe voting should be voluntary, because let's face it, most people don't know or care much about politics; to them, "politics" means "men in gray suits in parliament house" and not the issues that affect our lives. And I don't believe that the future of our country should be in their hands, because they simply want to avoid the $20 fine for not voting.

Well, if you're now feeling as angry as I am,
go here to punch John Howard!

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