Will Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Party support the restoration of Australian workers’ rights, or will he back a continuation of WorkChoices?
That is the stark question posed by a new ACTU television advertisement launched today.
The advertisement has been produced ahead of the expected introduction into Parliament tomorrow of legislation to establish a new national industrial relations system.
Unions welcome the new laws as a big step towards scrapping WorkChoices. The proposed legislation will give all workers protection from unfair dismissal, strong collective bargaining rights, rights to union representation, and a powerful independent umpire.
They will be introduced just a few days after the first anniversary of the 2007 election, when Labor was swept into power on the back of a backlash against the Howard Government’s unfair, anti-worker WorkChoices laws.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said Mr Turnbull has said WorkChoices is dead, but has not indicated his position on the new laws.
“WorkChoices stripped away the rights of millions of Australians, hurting the people who could afford it least,” she said.
“The Howard Government that created the most anti-worker laws ever seen in Australia. Although he has talked of a new Liberal Party under his leadership, since becoming leader Mr Turnbull has yet to declare whether he will support the legislation.
“The Liberal Party has a choice: it can either support the new laws, or it can continue to put working people last.”
Ms Burrow said the government had a clear mandate to create a fairer IR system that respected workers’ rights.
She said what had been publicly revealed about the proposed laws left no doubt that they would consign WorkChoices to history.
“We’ve come a long way in a year towards removing the legacy of WorkChoices,” she said.
“We haven’t reached the end of our campaign, but the tide turned last year when Australians voted overwhelmingly to stop the attacks on workers’ rights. The Liberal Party should accept this and support the laws.”
Download the union television here. The ad will begin screening nationally later this week.