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Issue No. 267 10 June 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Rivers of Gold
The latest catchphrase from the econmentariat seems to be ‘infrastructure’ – which I think refers to what we used to know as ‘public works’.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: The Baby Drought
Social ethicist Leslie Cannold has delved into why women - and men - are having fewer children. And it all comes back to the workplace.

Industrial: Lies, AWAs and Statistics
David Peetz uncovers the truth behind the latest statistics on earnings under Australian Workplace Agreements.

Workplace: The Invisible Parents
Current government policies about work and family do not reflect the realities of either family life or the modern workplace. writes Don Edgar.

History: Bruce’s Big Blunder
The Big Fella, Jack Lang, gives an eyewitness account of the last time Conservatives tried to dismantle Australia’s industrial relations system.

Politics: All God's Children
The battle for morality is not confined to Australian polittics. Michael Walzer writes on the American perspective

Economics: Spun Out
The business groups are feeling cocky. The feds have announced their IR changes, business says they don't go far enough. What a surprise, writes Neale Towart

International: Shakey Trials
Lyndy McIntyre argues the New Zealnd IR experiment provides warnings - and hope - for the Australian union movement.

Legal: Civil Distrubance
Tom Roberts argues that there is more at stake than an attack on building workers in the looming legsilation.

Review: Crash Course In Racism
Paul Haggis flick Crash suggests that when cars collide the extent of people's prejudices are revealed sans the usual veil of political correctness, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: You're Fired
New laws will leave bosses holding the whip and workers with a Raw Hide, writes resident bard David Peetz

N E W S

 Feds Wrong on Minimum Wage

 Dogs in Sheep’s Clothing

 Andrews Faces Probe

 NSW Packs IR Scrum

 China Syndrome

 Pirates Of The Canberrean

 Foxtel Scores Own Goal

 Killer Bosses on Notice

 Apprentices Spitting Chips

 Howard Chokes Working Women

 Vice Regal Notes

 Survey – Do it Now or Else

 Greens Join Fight

 Workers win repreive

 Activists Whats On!

C O L U M N S

The Locker Room
Ashes to Dust
In which Phil Doyle travels to distant lands in search of a meat pie, and prepares for the joys of sleep deprivation

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West lists the Top Ten reasons why workers in NSW can gain some solace from having the Labor Party sitting on the Treasury benches…

The Soapbox
Dear John
In response to this year’s Federal Budget, Bishop Kevin Manning wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard

L E T T E R S
 Secure Advice
 All The Way With The USA
 Expensive Door Charge
 Teen Years in Detention
 Court Cases are Media’s Drug
 Lang Is Right
 Legalising Unfairness
 Hertz Meenz Hurtz
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Feds Wrong on Minimum Wage


Federal government’s arguments for doing away with minimum wage cases are "unfounded" and "inconsistent", according to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

After hearing months of evidence, the seven-member bench chaired by Justice Geoffrey Giudice, accused the Federal Government of putting forward a submission that breached its own laws and would have pitched many people into poverty.

The bench rejected big business claims, echoed by Prime Minister John Howard and Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews, that it didn't pay sufficient attention to employment levels.

In delivering a $17 a week increase for Australia's lowest paid, it was critical of the Government's failure to supply it with information about the number of Australians dependent on the minimum wage, despite repeated requests to do so.

Mr Giudice said the Commission was bound to consider impacts on employment, living standards, inflation and international competitiveness.

In the last 10 years, he said, productivity had risen 25 percent; economic growth 35 percent; while, significantly, the number of employed Australians had increased 19 percent; and the number of unemployed had fallen 26 percent.

"In light of the growth in employment over the past eight years and the fact that unemployment has declined to its lowest level in 28 years, it would be difficult to accept that the commission's safety net adjustments have been excessive," the Commission said.

It said the Government's call for an $11 a week minimum wage increase, would have seen Australia's lowest-paid workers fail to keep pace with inflation.

This year's minimum wage claim, run on behalf of 1.6 million people by the ACTU, is expected to be the last.

Federal Government has unveiled plans to sideline the IRC as an "independent umpire" and replace it with a hand-picked committee to review the figure "periodically". The committee, to be known as the Fair Pay Commission, is expected to slash minimum wage growth in line with Coalition policy.

If the IRC had accepted government submissions, since Howard's 1996 election, Australia's lowest paid workers would be $2600 a year worse off.

The government delivered the IRC a final snub by refusing to show up for this week's decision.

Andrews said there we "no obligation" on the Government to respect tradition in the matter.


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