Prime Minister waves white flag.
Scott Morrison has announced the Government will not pursue the union-busting Ensuring Integrity Bill, urging for all sides of industrial relations to “put their weapons down”.
Liberals and unions. Usually this pairing is followed with some fresh criticism about the increasingly “aggressive” union leaders like John Setka, who “bully” employers to protect employees.
But today in his National Press Club address, the Prime Minster said no more to the historically combative relationship with unions, which was reaching its peak with the Government’s Ensuring Integrity Bill that would have slapped unions with harsher punishments for stepping over lines in fighting for employees.
“I think Australians will take a very dim view of anyone, or any group, or any organisation, that isn’t prepared to come and sit down on this table and give it a go at the Prime Minister’s and ministers’ invitation,” he said.
Five key groups to iron out problems with unions
Mr Morrison said the Government would create “five working groups” to discuss and negotiate areas of fair pay and award negotiation.
“The purpose is simple and honest – to explore and hopefully find a pathway to sensible, long-lasting reform, with just one goal – make jobs,” he said.
“To maximise the opportunity for a genuine course of negotiation, and compromise and cooperation that is vital to create jobs and chart an economic path back to what is mutually beneficial prosperity.
“We now have a shared opportunity to fix systemic problems and to realise gains as a matter of urgency to get more people back into work.”
Mr Morrison said this was part of the “JobMaker” Program (get it?) that the Government would be slowing shifting its attention to.
Vocational training to be overhauled
Another part of the “JobMaker” inititiative will be training, Mr Morrison said.
Faced with a climbing unemployment rate that was highest amongst youth, Mr Morrison said the VET system needed to be changed and announced the Federal Government would work with the States to make sweeping changes.
“I’m very committed to investing more, in a better system,” he said.
However, he did not indicate any short-term funding boost to TAFE, something the unions have been calling for.
Trading with China
Mr Morrison said it was essentially up to Australian companies to decide if and how they did business with China as the relationship with the country boasting the world’s second largest economy soured.
“That’s a judgment Australian businesses can only make,” he said.
“And, like any business, they have to weigh up the security of the markets in which they sell to.
“Those are not decisions that governments make for businesses, be they primary producers and exporters or be they resources companies or industries or, indeed, service companies working in the aged care area on training or things like this.”