||Issue No. 293||20 December 2005|
Waves of Destruction
Interview: Back to the Future
Unions: A Real Page Turner
Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
International: Around The World In 365 Days
Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
Politics: The Year That Was
Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
The Locker Room
Free to Rat
Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
Proportion, Not Distortion
Corporates Defend Costello
The Australian used Freedom of Information searches to blow apart Costello's insistence that he had not received Treasury advice that undermined key Government claims for its radical IR rewrite.
Costello assured Parliament no 'secret' Treasury advice existed.
He was being question about evidence given by Treasury official, David Tune, who said Costello had been provided with advice on the economic ramifications of Workchoices but declined to be specific.
"It was so secret that this report had not been written," Costello smirked. "Not only was it so secret that it had not even been written, it was so secret that it had neither been written nor released which, I have to say, was one of those top-secret things."
But the Australian revealed a Treasury executive minute on workplace policy had been sent to Costello on October 6. It warned proposed changes would deliver smaller wage increases for low-income earners than the present system, and that productivity would fall in the short-term.
Further, Costello was advised, effects on employment growth would not be "huge" and the impact on productivity growth would be "slow" and "difficult to quantify".
The information, delivered a month before Workchoices was forced through Parliament, undermined government assurances it would lead to higher wages, increased productivity, and more jobs.
Those claims had been forced down Australians throats in a wall-to-wall advertising campaign funded by $55 million taxpayer dollars.
Opposition leader, Kim Beazley, and ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, have both accused the Treasurer of lying.
Combet said the revelations left any remaining Workchoices credibility in tatters.
But Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss, Peter Hendy, has ridden to Costello's defence.
Hendy represents big business interests and has been an outspoken advocate for workplace changes that green-light unjustified dismissals, sideline collective bargaining, hamstring trade unions and give the Workplace Relations Minister the ability to declare any negotiated clause "unlawful".
"I don't think, on the face of it that he (misled Parliament) because they appear to be ministerial briefing papers for cabinet discussions," Hendy rationalised.
Despite Hendy's support, Costello, a founder of the extreme Right Wing HR Nicholls Society, goes into the Parliamentary recess with a credibility problem.
Revelations about his "top secret" IR advice came hard on the heels of being outed for the appointment of a tax dodger and large Liberal Party donor to the board of the Reserve Bank.
Costello backed the appointment of Adelaide multi-millionaire, Peter Gerard to the bank, despite Australian Tax Office concerns that his companies had dudded the public purse over a number of years.
It was revealed that, prior to the appointment, Gerard had poured seven-figure sums into Liberal Party coffers and had been canvassed as a possible national treasurer for the organisation.
In resigning from the bank, last month, Gerard admitted his settlement with the ATO, which came after his appointment, had been for more than $75 million.
He thanked the Howard Government for its support.
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