Labor-Democrats debate a non-event

May 13, 1998

Labor-Democrats debate a non-event

By Ruth Ratcliffe

BRISBANE — On May 5, the University of Queensland ALP and Australian Democrats clubs presented a debate about "Labour, Unionism and Change: Perspectives on Industrial Relations Reform — Past, Present and Future". The speakers — Claire Moore, state secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union and an ALP member, and Democrat Senate candidate John Cherry — could not find much to debate.

Neither advocated the repeal of the Workplace Relations Act (WRA) and both remained tactfully silent on the defection of Cheryl Kernot to the ALP and her role, as leader of the Democrats, in the passage of the WRA.

Cherry defended the Democrats' opposition to secondary boycotts, stating there is no reason why "innocent employers" should be targeted by workers during an "unrelated dispute". He defended the Democrats' role in the passage of the WRA on the grounds that the Coalition would have called a double dissolution election in an attempt to pass the bill.

Moore admitted that the WRA was a "natural evolution" from the ALP's 1993 industrial relations legislation which introduced enterprise bargaining and made secondary boycotts illegal. The resulting questions raised about the role of the ALP and ALP-dominated unions in weakening the labour movement were glossed over by Moore.

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