|Issue No 119||16 November 2001|
Letters to the Editor
Is Loose Lips Lewis trying to sink Greens ship?
In a run down on how the parties fare on industrial relations in last week's Workers On Line (Issue 118) readers were presented with a twisted analysis that put The Greens in bed with IR Minister Mr Abbott. This distorted view, written by Peter Lewis, contrasted with the generous interpretation given to the Democrats IR work. The party that gave the Coalition the necessary votes to bring in the first wave of the Workplace Relations Act was awarded "brownie points" for supposedly resisting the Howard-Reith reform packages.
With the election looming the Lewis-Labor Council spin denigrates The Greens by association with the baddest boy of the Howard team, the mad monk himself, Tony Abbott. The Greens are proud of their policy and actions on IR issues, such as support for workers' right to strike, abolition of AWA's, winding up of the Office of Employment Advocate, and the development of industry-wide insurance schemes to give full protection to all workers' entitlements.
And Greens MPs have consistently put their policies into actions. Greens Senators fought to stop the sell-off of the Australian National Line and vigorously opposed the Reith-Kernot Workplace Relations Act with a raft of amendments. In NSW Upper House MPs led the fight to protect workers' compensation from being dismantled by a Labor government.
When it comes to the Democrats Workers On Line pulls on the kid gloves. Yes this party does have a policy commitment to abolish junior rates of pay as Lewis informs his readers. But he failed to add that when they had a chance of ending age based discriminatory wage rates they just could not bring themselves to do it. The Democrats voted with the Coalition to retain wage rates based on age instead of competency in the 1998 Work Place Relations Act. If the Democrats had voted with The Greens and Labor this measure would have been defeated.
When it comes to policy many political parties get the words right. But what happens when a party has the power to act on its policies is what really counts. Surely Lewis, known for his hard hitting style, could have delved deeper than the policy documents and given WOL readers a reminder of what some political parties do when they actually have the power to change the laws that affect workers lives.
In 1998 the Democrats had that power, but the result was ugly for workers. As the Democrats chose to vote with the Coalition and not support Greens and/or Labor amendments we ended up with only 20 areas to be covered in awards, the loss of pay for industrial actions (not including strikes), and the reintroduction of secondary boycott provisions.
So what to do on November 10 - a crucial election on so many fronts. A vote for The Greens and preferences for Labor in the House of Representatives and the Senate strengthens the value of your vote.
It will help to ensure a Labor government is elected, while sending them a strong message that you want a party that shows humanity to refugees, is strong on workers' rights and will strengthen and extend public assets and services.
Greens Senators for the past decade have had a consistent track record of support for progressive issues and workers' rights. We have a real chance of increasing our numbers in this election. Your vote in the Senate will be crucial to getting this country back to values that serve all and not the elite few.
Ed's Note: This was Lee's daggy headline, not mine
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History: The Fall-Out
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Media: Elite Defeat
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005