WorkChoices and sour grapes

Why is Abbott so spooked by the WorkChoices bogyman? reads the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald

Peter Reith writes:

The Liberal Party has to take responsibility for labour market reform in Australia because the Labor Party is hopelessly compromised by the fact that it is owned lock, stock and barrel by the unions.

Reith then answers his own original question:

Too many people are worried about WorkChoices. WorkChoices is obviously buried and no one wants it back.

And here come the sour grapes:

And Abbott? He played “show and tell”. This is the opposite of a secret ballot and much favoured by Labor party factional bosses who like to see the ballots to make sure that their lackeys vote as directed or as agreed in a deal. It was a pity that the Liberal federal director did not accept my suggestion that we needed polling booths because some delegates felt they were being pressured. Anyway, that was not a problem for Abbott. Sitting at the top table in the full glare of the media, he filled out the form and showed it to Stockdale, who was sitting next to him. Stockdale looked pleased.

Over to you…

59 comments on “WorkChoices and sour grapes

  1. Nil was right. OMG Abbott did not assassinate Reith, the knife obviously wasn’t sharp enough or deep enough. Thus leaving Reith the opportunity to talk about CORE VALUES of the Liberal party. Work Choices.
    It is in their DNA.
    Dead obviously not
    Not Buried ever
    And definitely not cremated

  2. A lot of double-speak in Reith’s article. He states that WorkChoices is dead and buried and then goes on to explain that his not speaking about industrial relations was part of the deal that the did with Abbott.

    Mr Reith said he had “suspended his interest” in commenting about industrial relations policy since February because of a promise to Tony Abbott.

    This of course means that Reith should refrain from airing his more radical workplace ideas in exchange for Abbott’s support.

  3. And in revenge he has vowed to push for industrial relations reform, against the wishes of Mr Abbott, who has sought to avoid debate on the issue to avoid a Labor campaign on the divisive Workchoices policy.

    I didn’t think Labor would start rising again the polls until the Carbon Tax was bedded down

    Looks like I might have been wrong

    Again 🙂

  4. Timmy Tom…avoid..avoid..avoid. How much time to the new Senate? 2 days 10 hours 24 minutes. Abbott will have avoided himself right out the door.

  5. The thing is Min, he may as well not have been there all year considering the progress made in Parliament. I mean, have they offered up any ‘alternatives’ or even amendments to policies?

    All they do is say NO, and get their mugs in the paper daily, and their ‘analysis’ of Labor policies at the ABC(tos)

  6. Mr. Reith’s crime is not talking about IR laws. His crime is that he is doing it in public.

    Surely Mr Abbott would have told him that the topic was off he Coalition agenda in private as well as public.

    It is OK to do as the new Coalition state leaders are doing. Say nothing before elections. Put it at the head of the agenda after being elected.

  7. I cannot remember an Opposition having so little say in parliament, even taking Mr. Howard’s landslide result, t hat saw the birth of Workchoices.

    I have never seen an Opposition with so little to say about the bills before parliament.

  8. CU, that’s Abbott all over..the job of the Opposition is to oppose. I would have thought that the job of the Opposition was to improve.

  9. Min, the problem is that he is not doing much opposing.

    All he is doing, is shooting his mouth off across the country at daily photo ops.

    I believe we are picking up the tab for his daily hamming it before the cameras.

    He is not putting himself in the position for any in depth interviews.

    All he is doing is sprouting three word slogans and allegations. Little or no proof or explanation.

  10. CU. I suspect that it depends upon one’s definition of ‘opposing’. Some people argue, Yes you did/No I didn’t/Yes you did/No I didn’t and it just goes around and around circles getting nowhere.

    Therefore when a person disagrees with another person then clearly they should explain their reasoning PLUS vip put forward an alternative.

    So far Abbott is stuck in the Yes you did/No I didn’t ..what shall we call it. I await his alternative suggestions.

  11. When Peter Reith left Parliament he went to work for Tenix, a

    This is from Feb., 2002

    Peter Reith’s Job With Tenix
    It was reported earlier this month that the former Minister for Defence, Peter Reith, who retired from politics at the last election, has taken a position as a paid consultant on “government relations” with The Tenix Group. Reith reportedly signed on with Tenix the day after after ceasing to be a minister in November 2001.

    Tenix Group describes itself as Australia’s largest defence and technology contractor and the only Australian-owned major defence prime contractor.” Tenix has assets of approximately $1 billion, annual earnings of almost $1 billion, and employs over 4,000 people.

    Among other things, Tenix is part of The ANZAC Ship Project which undertakes the development and construction of ANZAC Class guided missile frigates for the Australian and New Zealand navies. The company is also involved with the Over The Horizon Radar, and other engineering and technology projects.

    In employing Reith as a consultant, the company hopes to take advantage of Reith’s inside knowledge as a government minister for the past 6 years and Defence Minister for the last year. Similarly, Reith’s contacts with the company could be said to derive directly from his work as the minister.

    In government, ministers are subject to a Code of Conduct which requires that they “do not by their conduct undermine public confidence in them or the government”. Amongst other things, ministers are required to resign directorships in public companies and to divest themselves of financial interests in businesses associated with their portfolio responsibilities.

    The Code also says:

    Ministers should perform their public duties uninfluenced by fear or favour – that is, by any expectation that they will benefit or suffer as a consequence… Ministers should not exercise the influence obtained from their public office, or use official information, to obtain any improper benefit for themselves or another.
    What hasn’t received a lot of attention in recent years is the work undertaken by ministers and members of parliament after they leave politics. In part, the issue has now arisen because increasing numbers of politicians are leaving Parliament at a younger age and pursuing a “third career”.

    Peter Reith has form on Workchoices, and he hasn’t changed.
    This is him in 2005.

    From The Guardian
    16 March 2005

    Support Tenix workers

    Melbourne workers have joined a London web campaigner in a cyber attack on military contractor Tenix. The Australian Services Union (ASU) launched an “electronic picket” (see below) of the company after it insisted employees sign AWAs against their wills, and refused to recognise their union.

    Tenix, which employed the union bashing former Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith, was one of the first companies to foist federal individual agreements, Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) on its employees.

    After six years of them, Melbourne-based staff passed judgement in an 83 percent vote for a union-negotiated collective contract. Tenix’s reaction was to try to force workers to sign its AWAs and to refuse to recognise the union.

    Workers struck and are now calling on the public to back their right to choose.

    London-based Labourstart has mounted an on-line campaign in support of the Melbourne workers. In the first 12 hours of the campaign more than 1000 protest emails were aimed at Tenix from activists around the world.

    And now he’s back, full of the joys of “industrial reform”.

    Well, full of it any way you look at it really.

  12. Hell’s bells Bacchus..Migs and I have this blog and you can argue here free of charge.

    (Min checks side pocket). However I do believe that Migs is taking a tally and once a person goes into Argument Deficit then there is an obligation to make a small donation in the Agreement’s a small brown box on your way out the door.

  13. Remember when Nick Minchin said he didn’t think WorkChoices went far enough? he said that at a meeting of the HR Nicholls Society, who now have an article up on The Drum:-
    For future productivity we must nail IR reform

    What with Peter Reith, Alexander Downer and the other three Vice-Poobahs of the Liberal Party angling to get Reith into the Presidency and losing by one vote, they now have the public backing of the HR Nicholls Society.

    My guess is that this has been in the works for a long time.
    Reith always was ruthless, and a bull at a gate, and now that Abbott has ‘betrayed’ him there’ll be no stopping him from speaking about his big dream of a newer and probably tougher WorkChoices.

    They’ll call it the Workers Friend.

  14. About the HR Nicholls Society.

    From google Search:-
    From wikipedia. Probably correct as they would delete anything untoward about themselves…

    The H.R. Nicholls Society is an Australian think tank of the New Right on industrial relations.[1] It was created in March 1986 after John Stone, Peter Costello, Barrie Purvis, and Ray Evans organised a seminar aimed at discussing the Hancock Report and other industrial matters.

    A quote from ‘Katherine’ on The Drum, about the HR Nicholls contribution:-

    Katharine :
    28 Jun 2011 12:51:40pm
    Have the HR Nichols Society and other conservative groups a plan for its members to flood the Drum with their views?
    Their extremism seems to be everywhere.
    The Liberal Party is anything but (liberal), but I draw comfort from Abbott scuttling Reith’s ambition.
    “Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.” William E. Gladstone, 1866

    It won’t just be them, there is also the IPA making regular appearances.

    I wonder does the ABC pay them for the privilege ??

  15. This article from The AGE last year gives a clue about the future WorkChoices.
    Most of the big players are firmly ensconced in Parliament for the long haul:-

    They cannot talk about it yet but the Liberals still carry a torch for IR reform
    October 12, 2010

    IT WOULD be a mistake to think that the Liberals’ public unease and confusion over industrial relations indicates they do not have strong views on the issue.

    In public the Liberals cannot say clearly what they would do to Labor’s Fair Work laws for fear of being seen to want to bring back WorkChoices.

    But last Thursday night a packed Collins Street function spoke volumes of how much industrial relations (IR) still matters to the Liberal Party. And how much they’d like to change the current system, if they could.

    The dinner was to honour retiring HR Nicholls Society president Ray Evans, one of four founders of the Society in the 1980s along with Peter Costello. Its famous union-busting legal cases, such as Dollar Sweets, quickly drew attention and notoriety and prime minister Bob Hawke even described them as ”political troglodytes and economic lunatics” at the time.

    Hawke got that right and no mistake.

  16. Without a doubt Abbott would bring back the worst of WorkChoices. It is not just a coincidence that Gina and Twiggy back Abbott – there is the mega miners tax which of course they don’t want to pay, but then there is the ‘real reason’ – cheap labour..bring back 457 Visas I say!

  17. Why do people keep saying that the PM stands for nothing. Is it true that she stands for nothing or are many saying this because they do not like her and refuse to hear what she says.

    “I have given sufficient examples of what Julia Gillard stands for; there are many, many others. The ALP website documents them. Look at the achievements to date.

    In my view the strident call for her to show what she stands for is simply claptrap perpetrated by those who dislike her for whatever reason and want to see her gone, or by those who simply don’t think about what they mean when the say “What does Julia Gillard stand for?” It is so easy for those words to flow thoughtlessly off the tongue as did “She has lost her moral compass”. Because she is standing for something others may disagree with does not mean that she is wrong, or unprincipled. What a shame it is that we allow our own personal preferences and feelings to be used as the standard against which others, including our PM ought to be judged. Why do we have to be so uncharitable, so intolerant of others’ views, preferences, principles and vision? Why are so many journalists so certain of the rightness of their position that they condemn out of hand and with pejorative language the things our PM stands for? The old saying ‘Judge not lest you be judged’ seems not to occur to our self-opinionated journalists. ”

  18. Catching up,
    I think the problem is that Julia Gillard is the LABOR Prime Minister.
    If she was a Liberal they would write flowery, flattering tripe like they do about Julie Bishop, the difference being that Julie Bishop will never be the Leader of the Opposition, let alone the PM. 😀

  19. Oh, PIP do not wish either of the Bishops on us.

    I have decided I am going to challenge anyone that continues to speak of the PM in the disgusting way they do now. The lady does not deserve the filth she has directed against her.

  20. CU. I support you in this. Those who proport to have ‘family values’ and be conservative/moderate do not uphold these same values when speaking about our Prime Minister.

  21. Cu, how could I have forgotten Bronwyn?
    I won’t mention them again 🙂

    I will do as you plan to do and respond if I see any of the disgusting talk about the PM.

    Julia Gillard is a modern woman and makes her own choices about her life, just as millions of other woman do. End of story

  22. Hello everybody. Just dropping in to thank you all for your great efforts in keeping the Cafe alive and well during my forced absence.

    I don’t get the opportunities to visit the Cafe as much as I like so I’ve missed most of the threads and the bulk of the comments but the small amount I’ve caught have left me impressed. Big thanks too to Min for taking on the role of blogmaster while I’m sidelined.

    I’m battling along though it’s a bit of a struggle at times and I’m confident of being back on board again in early October.

    Stay well everybody.

  23. Tonight on the ABC news Peter Reith confirmed what I said at 11.21am today.”Industrial relations is in the Liberal party DNA”.

    So a warning to the electorate if you vote for the Coalition Workchoices will be back with even harder reforms than last time. With your blessing.

    Now is Abbott and his mates looking to the UK for inspiration. There the government has decided for public servants that compulsory contributions to pensions will increase but the actual pension at a later retirement age will be smaller.
    The all new pay more get less and the government wonders why mass strikes are planned.( I wonder if the new rules apply to parliamentarians.)

  24. Great to hear from you Migs. You’re looking good – you seem younger somehow. have you lost weight? 😉 Look after yourself and do try to keep warm down there 🙂 Min is doing an excellent job in holding the fort (and guarding the cellar 😆 )

  25. Migs, it’s lovely to hear from you, and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to your return, but health issues come first.

    Bacchus do ya think we should have a quiet word with Min about the cellar ??

    Migs won’t mind… 🙄

  26. On industrial relations being in the LP DNA, I’m sure this has been already been linked to, once or twice here, but reading the narrative “going backwards”, unzipping the text from bottom to top, is still fun, perhaps…

    Reith rounds on Abbott over broken deal

    By one account, it might even exemplify, as microcosmic equivalent, Abbott’s entire political strategy for a certain workplace, for the entire time he’s been occupying Party leadership; just as deal-breaking might be in Abbot’s personal DNA, whether it’s an ETS, a Parliamentary pairing agreement, or anything else which tickles a Machiavellian operator’s fancy.

  27. Hello ‘Strong and Effective….’ call me s-i-l-l-y, but I did exactly what you said and read the narrative ‘going backwards’ …….and halfway up the page there was this:-

    “I didn’t realise then there would be some people wanting to bury the report, which I don’t agree with.”

    True to his word, Mr Reith has begun his campaign for workplace relations reform, saying Workchoices was not necessarily the reason for the election loss in 2007.

    “The Workchoices thing has been made – even by our own side – into this sort of huge bogie man. You know, ‘we lost the election because of Workchoices’,” he said.

    “Even if they got back to the legislation we had in ’96 which worked really well, which the Democrats all went along with at the time, Australia would be a lot better instead of going backwards which is where we’ve gone under Julia Gillard.”

    f the Libs keep talking down the country those on the other side of the pond might start to believe it, just like readers of The Australian.

    There’s one thing to say about the Democrats. GST, which stands for taking 10% of low incomes and not nearly as much from higher incomes !!

  28. Well that was a nice surprise. Migs, I’m pleased that you’ve finally found someone to give you a decent haircut. 😉 The keys to the cellar have been entrusted to yours truly, nothing not a single scrap that anyone could say could convince me to relinquish these…although bribery might work. 😉

  29. migs, you were gone? 😉

    Nice to hear from you, and hope ypou are doing well. You are certainly looking well, although the rug looks a little lopsided.

    And yes, Min has been a blogmistress extraordinaire. I think you will find life very easy once you get back, and relax while you watch her weave her magic.

  30. nothing not a single scrap that anyone could say could convince me to relinquish these…although bribery might work.

    There’s our answer Pip – a little graft is all that’s required 😉 Although I’ve heard Mateus works well too 😛

  31. Tom, thank you. Nah..I intend to put the boss to work once he is well enough to return. I’ll have LOTS of dishes waiting for him. 😉

  32. ‘I intend to put the boss to work’

    Now THAT’S a work choice I think we could all agree on (excepting perhaps me boss 😦 )

  33. WorkChoices. Dead. Buried. Don’t – Believe – It =================================

    PETER REITH is planning to form an industrial relations think tank, with the involvement and backing of senior business executives and academics – a move that will pressure Tony Abbott to adopt a more hard-line policy stance towards labour market reform.

    The Herald has learned the former mining executive, Hugh Morgan, has also been a key driver of the process, as has Michael Chaney, a former president of the Business Council of Australia and currently the chairman of Woodside Petroleum. Both have been recruiting
    executive support.

    Also believed to have been approached is Professor Richard Blandy, a noted economist with expertise in industrial relations.

    The think tank, to be located within the Melbourne-based, free-market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, is the initiative of Mr Reith and has growing support in the corporate world.

    It is understood Mr Morgan, a strong advocate of workplace deregulation, met recently with institute director, John Roskam.

    As part of its role, the think tank would conduct a thorough review of Labor’s Fair Work Act, which replaced WorkChoices, and recommend widespread changes.

    The think tank would operate in parallel with the H.R. Nicholls Society, which has recently taken on Mr Reith’s former staffer, Ian Hanke, to boost its efforts to overhaul Labor’s laws.

    — ————-

    [ Mr. Hanke made a contribution to the ABC’s The Drum this week, AND was probably paid for his effort ! ]
    Add him to the list of annoying IPA parrots who frequent the studios of the ABC. How much are they paid by the ABC for their promotional work?

    Read on and there is this:-

    Contacted by the Herald yesterday, Mr Reith confirmed the plans for the think tank and said he had yet to decide whether to play a strategic role himself.

    ”There’s no independent voice in Australia for talking about workplace relations in a way which can properly focus on the problems of the current system,” he said.

    He’s GOT to be kidding !
    Mr. Reith appears to be calling the shots, at the behest of his corporate masters, for the Coalition, which makes their ‘every where man’ Leader a puppet to the Big End of Town.

  34. (At least there’s an apparently consistent theme in the available literature…”IPA executive director John Roskam believed the system was now even less flexible than when the former Howard government took office in 1996, blaming it for creating a ”grievance culture”.“)

  35. And Abbott will be ‘all ears’ (so to speak) when presented with the problems.

    From the link to Insiders..just a moot point…

    she was sounding…. she does look like….she is worried…she got two and I got one… It took almost the entire interview before Tony Abbott gave the “she” a name.

  36. Exactly Tom, if it was a bad syatem there would be man/woman-hours lost through industrial action – blowout of wage demands etc etc……


    Mr Forrest paused for effect, but the silence did not last.

    A single set of clapping hands quickly became hundreds, as an enthusiastic round of applause spread through the auditorium, wafting as only rebel spirit can.

    I can just say..go for it Twiggy..a campaign for WA withdraw from Australia. There ya’ go, you can mint your own currency, have your own Army, Navy and Airforce (just in case of an invasion from SA), your own postal service, customs inspection..the list goes on and BTW you can keep your Aussie Rules footy teams!

  38. Senior Libs clash over WorkChoices record


    RETIRING Liberal senator Nick Minchin has accused Coalition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey of misrepresenting his position on Work Choices during the Howard years.

    Amid the fallout from the Liberal Party’s presidential race, The Australian Online has learned Senator Minchin has hit out at Mr Hockey in a parting shot copied to parliamentary colleagues.

    The letter is the latest in a series of fierce exchanges between the moderate and hard line factions of the Liberal Party.

  39. “Senior Libs clash over WorkChoices record


    So what.

    And the Labor party does not have any internal squabling???

    A current topic is the mining boom. Labor said that Costello wasted the mining boom. He “only” saved $50B from 2004-2007.

    Now commodity prices have exploded and we have the best terms of trade for 100 years how much money has Swan put aside for future generations??

    Absolutely nothing!! Furthermore Labor has raided infrastructure funds that Costello started and spent the capital.

    But your heroes are in power and that is all that matters.

  40. I cannot imagine that any Abbott lead Liberal party wouldn’t consider bringing back WorkChoices as Abbott owes too much to the hard right of his party.

  41. Cannot feel that Mr. Minchin’s nose is out of joint, as Mr. Reith destroyed his well worked plan of taking a year off politics after leaving the Senate.

    He made arrangements with Mr. Stockdale to keep the seat warm for twelve months, allowing him to take over next year.

    On Workchoices, I believe there would be little difference between the two of them.

    Has anyone noticed that votes taken by either arm of the Liberal Party results in a split down the middle. Does this mean anything.

  42. CU, as you suspect it means that they’re split down the middle. But who knows what the next 2 years will entail, will Abbott even be leader of the opposition..I suspect not.

    Abbott is an attack dog and today is his last day as (Min checks Migs’ Australian Blog Sites)..6 hours and 36 minutes and he is reduced from rotweiller to small breed spaniel.

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