Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Libs Try Dumping Workchoices

The Liberal Party has today said that it it will no longer support AWA's, the iconic centre of John Howard's WorkChoices. It has been THE primary instrument used to offer workers lower wages, with fewer conditions, and with a requirement of unspecified "reasonable overtime" with no penaly rate.

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson left it to his Deputy, Julie Bishop, to front the media. Today's news carried the lowest ever "approval rating" of just 9%. Dr Nelson and Mrs Bishop had argued in and out of Parliament for the retention of AWA's, even after Labor introduced legislation to wind back the effects of WorkChoices.

Politically, WorkChoices has been dead from first moments of last year's election loss by the Liberal Party. Even now they want to have existing or new AWA's to have a 5 year term - not the 2 years proposed in Labor's legislation. It is a sop to big business; an attempt to have one last word on WorkChoices, before the Liberal Party tries to forget its ignominious past. But, for this Parliamentary term, at least, every Liberal Member will be tainted with, and taunted by, "WorkChoices". Julie Bishop has indicated that if it is not accepted, they will still approve Labor's legislation.

It is the second issue this week where emboldened Liberal Party members have tried to distance themselves from the defeat. The ABC aired a "documentary" in which senior Liberal Party members lined up to eagerly say "I told John Howard it was time to go". By implication they lay all the blame for defeat at Howard's feet, and none at their own. They included Senator Nick Minchin, Tony Abbott, Alexander Downer and Peter Costello.

They might well be trying a "makeover" - it could a a very long time before it works. It might only work with new leadership: leadership untainted by WorkChoices and meek subservience to John Howard.