The Opposition’s Approach to, and Predictions for, Industrial Relations

Speech - Thomson Reuters Workplace Conference


 22nd November 2010

I thank Peter Schwab at Thomson Reuters for this opportunity. 

The topic of my address was billed as 'The Oppositions Approach to Industrial Relations'. I have decided to make a very slight change to this topic. As well as our 'approach to' industrial relations, I will also talk about the Opposition's predictions' for the future. 

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There is something deceitful and repugnant about an organisation which:

  • Claims to be independent and non-partisan, but is actively partisan.
  • Which campaigns on particular popular issues but is really only interested in funnelling votes to the Greens and Labor
  • Which at each election pretends to independently assess the policies of the various political parties when the result is a foregone conclusion
  • Which pretends to educate young people about policy issues but takes advantage of their political inexperience
  • And which preaches openness but is secretive about its own financial affairs.


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Condolences - Hon. Kenneth Shaw Wriedt

The coalition joins in the condolence motion that honours the life of the Hon Kenneth Shaw Wriedt, and especially his public life as a servant of the people of Tasmania and the Australian Labor Party. Ken Wriedt was a man not only of substantial physical stature but also of substantial political stature. It goes without saying that we on this side did not embrace his politics, but we do acknowledge his service and salute it. He was a passionate Tasmanian. He loved his adopted state and had no difficulty in switching to state politics in the service of the Tasmanian people and his party when he thought it was needed.

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Ministerial Statements on Afghanistan

Mr Acting Deputy President:

It’s not the time to get the wobbles, it’s not the time to lose faith, it’s not the time to forsake the loss and the sacrifice and expense and the heartache that’s gone into [Afghanistan].

The coalition, in joining this debate to take note of the Prime Minister’s statement on Afghanistan, say ‘Amen’ to those wise and succinct sentiments uttered by Major General Cantwell in recent days. Let us be clear: the commitment to armed conflict is one of the most soul wrenching or soul searching decisions any Prime Minister or government could ever make. Those that have gone before us, and those that follow us, have made and will need to make these chilling calls—calls which all of us so passionately wish had not been part of our history or indeed part of our future, let alone the present. Nevertheless, we recognise the need to make such calls—calls which are made without perfect and full knowledge of all the situations and likelihoods, calls which need to be made without knowing the full consequences of inaction or action. They are, in brief, the matters which leadership requires to sift, to distil and to analyse before our bravest and best are requested to engage in theatres where they know they will be called upon to make a commitment which might require the ultimate sacrifice.

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Governor-General's Speech - Address-in-Reply - 43rd Parliament

I congratulate Senator Pratt on being chosen by her colleagues to move the address-in-reply. Her Excellency’s address to this place yesterday highlighted the ongoing deficiencies of this ongoing Labor government—a government that failed when it had an absolute majority in the House of Representatives and is already continuing to fail without a majority. In the speech yesterday there was no mention as to what the government was going to do for the thousands of Australians that still have electrified roofs and living in danger of their houses burning down because of Labor’s bungled pink batt and insulation scheme. It has been simply airbrushed out of the pages of history. That is what Labor thought. Not so, because we as a coalition will continue to make the government accountable.

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Speech - David Davies Memorial Dinner

GetUp! - A New Kind of Astroturfing[1]

GetUp! - independent and non-aligned? 

There is something particularly repugnant about an organisation which: 

  • claims to be independent and non-partisan, but is actively partisan
  • campaigns on particular popular issues, but which is really only interested in funnelling votes to the Greens and Labor
  • each election goes through a charade of "independently" assessing the various political parties' policies when the result is a foregone conclusion
  • will slightly criticise Labor in order to lend credence to its claims of independence
  • pretends to educate young people about policy issues while taking advantage of their political inexperience
  • preaches openness and transparency, but is secretive about its own financial affairs

Which organisation am I talking about?

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ALSF Address - The Forgotten People of the 21st Century

When Robert Menzies founded our great party, he was concerned with what he described as the forgotten people – those people that had become voiceless at the hands of the Labor Government that dealt in the big picture, and forgot the people and communities that actually made up the big picture.

Now some 65 years later, it seems Labor of the 21st century has learnt nothing.

Labor is still stuck in their ideology of Government knowing best - that Government is the centre of everything and no doubt that is why Labor leaders have such inflated egos because they foolishly see themselves as being at the centre of all things important.

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Matters of Public Importance: Government Advertising

Federal Labor has reached a new low. Having promised so much and delivered so little, its backflip to run an unconscionable taxpayer-funded misinformation campaign is another example in the long list of broken Labor promises. To add insult to injury and like with so much else they do, Labor has not only embarked on a $38 million taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign but also rushed it and not consulted. Remember throughout all this that Mr Rudd gave this solemn commitment: government advertising was a cancer on the body politic of Australia that needed surgical removal.

So rushed was its desire for a taxpayer-funded campaign, Labor—through its Special Minister of State—crashed through and ignored its very own pathetically weak guidelines by invoking emergency powers. That is bad enough in itself. But—oh, what a tangled web we weave—having disingenuously claimed urgency and emergency, Labor then withheld this decision wilfully and deliberately from the parliament in an attempt to avoid the scrutiny of Senate estimates process.

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Prime Minister: Statements Relating to the Senate

I move:

That the Senate notes the Prime Minister’s continued unprincipled attacks upon the Senate.

The Labor Party’s continued unprincipled attacks on the Senate are regrettable. The Senate is a vital part of Australia’s parliamentary democratic framework, which is in fact the envy of the world. Some would say the Senate should be thankful for small mercies because we have not been spoken about in the same way as the Chinese officials in Copenhagen. But when a Prime Minister speaks to demean the Senate in the way this Labor Prime Minister has and this Labor government has, the Australian people need to simply ask a one-word question: why? The answer is that the Prime Minister and his government are desperately thrashing around, drowning in a self-made quagmire of incompetence and duplicity. So as the Prime Minister and his government’s collective head is sinking beneath the surface, they thrash around desperately thinking that unprincipled attacks on the institutions of this parliament, namely the Senate, will somehow provide them with an electoral lifebuoy by distracting the Australian people from their self-made fiascos. I have a message for Labor: attacking the Senate will not be a lifebuoy, but working with us could in fact have been a lifebuoy. Let us have a look at what the Prime Minister has been saying. Just this week he has said about the Senate:

So we have a very simple message for the Senate, which is get out of the road, guys, just get on with it.

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About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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