Release type: Media Release


Abbott’s return to WorkChoices – not if, but when


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

It is only a matter of time before Tony Abbott announces that individual contracts – one of the worst aspects of WorkChoices – are back on the table for Australian workers, Minister for Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans said today.

WorkChoices architect, former Howard Government minister, Peter Reith today slammed Mr Abbott for shying away from the WorkChoices agenda.

Writing in the Australian Financial Review, Mr Reith identified a return to individual contracts as a top priority, stating if the Liberal Party’s policy;

‘does not reinstate individual agreements then it will not be good enough.’

“Individual contracts were the vehicle used to strip away pay and conditions,” Senator Evans said.

“Under Work Choices, 64 per cent of AWAs cut annual leave loading and 63 per cent cut penalty rates.

“Individual contracts were especially bad for women. Women working full time on AWAs took home $87.40 per week less on average than women on collective agreements.”

Senator Evans said pressure from the hardline, right-wing ideologues in the Liberal Party for a return to the extreme industrial relations regime of the Howard era was mounting.

“Tony Abbott and his colleagues have only one agenda in mind when it comes to industrial relations – a return to the WorkChoices era,” Senator Evans said.

“It is not a question of if, but when, Mr Abbott will announce this policy.”

Senator Evans said the WorkChoices choir was growing daily.

“Former Senator Nick Minchin, Julie Bishop, Steve Ciobo, Andrew Robb and Jamie Briggs, Eric Abetz and former leader Malcolm Turnball all want WorkChoices reinstated, laws that will strip unfair dismissal rights from 4.5 million working Australians,” he said.

“Australian workers want decent and fair workplaces for themselves and their children, including a fair day’s work, decent award conditions including weekend and shift penalty rates, allowances and rest breaks and the right to challenge unfair treatment at work.

“Tony Abbott does not understand these values and cannot be trusted when it comes to industrial relations.”