Coalition defends IR policy

AAP

Opposition workplace spokesman Eric Abetz has rejected criticism of the Coalition's workplace relations policy, arguing that it is designed to favour not one particular sector but to consider the best interests of the nation.

The opposition is facing criticism from industry and employer groups as well as the federal government after revealing its workplace proposals, including a greater take-up of individual flexibility agreements (IFAs).

Asked if the policy was the first step towards a return to the Howard Government's Work Choices reform and the use of Australian Workplace Agreements, Senator Abetz said it was not, and that a portion of the policy was based on a Labor-generated review.

"Labor's own Fair Work Review Panel ... even came up with recommendations, one of which we have adopted in this policy to ensure that this flexibility arrangement was more widely used," he told ABC television on Thursday.

Senator Abetz said the plan was "sensible" and "fair-minded" and he denied that the interest of business was the sole consideration in the formation of the policy.

"I see our core constituency ... is not the business community or any other sectional interest, it's the national interest, it is every Australian and what we are seeking to do is bring in policies that don't seek to divide," Senator Abetz said.

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh says the opposition's industrial relations policy recognises the importance of productivity and is a "step in the right direction".

"It is recognising the need for engagement and communication involvement between management and the entire team," he said.

"That's important if you want to have an efficient business, and there are another number of elements that should help."

Mr Walsh said productivity was a big issue for the global mining giant.

The broadest measure of labour productivity - gross domestic product per hour worked - rose by an annual 3.5 per cent to December 2012 in Australia, which was the fastest rise in a decade, official data showed in March.

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For those that continue to claim big business does not know how to manage productivity growth, well these changes may make them get off their backsides and start. As for unions, we all know about them and their power struggle in the workplace, which indecently was made easier under the Gillard government. Maybe they will have to look elsewhere now to earn, but more specifically justify their multi million dollar wages and bonuses.
Cunning Abbott was testing the voters' response when he claimed that he was upfront with voters on minor changes to work choices. Business groups claimed that said changes were too soft. Would you believe Abbott wasting his time on minor changes? Would Abbott be so soft and caring? What's his motive? I anticipate the worst is yet to appear once he has become the next PM! I guess the recent favourable polls have made him more cocky and confident that Coalition shall win the next federal election! One big lesson which the Coalition has not learned is why Howard was defeated disgracefully by his voters after servicing them for 32 years and replaced by a rookie Labor politician! It's mainly due to his notorious and unpopular work choices. Over last 5 years Coalition did promise not to revert to work choices' policy and yet it resurfaced again and again. This shows that Coalition always makes empty promises to be broken conveniently subsequently! That's what we experience now in Victoria and Queensland!