WorkChoices

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WorkChoices is the collective name of a series of amendments to Australian labour law made by the Howard Government in 2005. The move towards individual bargaining in the workplace caused a sharp reaction from the Trade Union movement.

  • I need a mum or a dad of someone who’s been seriously injured or killed. That would be fantastic.
    • Sharan Burrow President of the ACTUformulating plans to oppose the legislation.
  • The history books show what happened in America. People on picket lines were murdered. Women and children were killed, and that is the road this Prime Minister wants to take us down. It is a disgrace.
    • Bob Smith a Victorian Labor MP speaking on the package.
  • [WorkChoices] put lives at risk, lives like the husband of—this lady...I want the Prime Minister to know something right now. We will hold the government to account for the human cost of these laws
  • [T]his is communist-style control
    • Greg Combet, ACTU Secretary.
  • [W]hilst there has been an immense civil libertarian focus on this (counter-terrorism) bill, I actually think the industrial relations bill reduces civil rights more
    • Kim Beazley on the legislation.
  • [A] pact with the devil
    • Janet Giles of Unions South Australia
  • That system took us from a situation where our kids were going to school with bare feet because their parents could not afford shoes. The submissions that we made over many years for justice in terms of disruption to families, allowances, overtime—all of those things—took long and hard submissions to an independent tribunal to achieve. Now, through legislation, you are going to wipe away all of those allowances—all of that justice that was delivered over a long period of time.
    • Bill Ludwig AWU President.
  • [I]n this country in the '50s and '60s and there was a lot of sabotage that went on in the workplace, in a very subtle way...What concerns me is the sort of relationship that's now been established in the workplace is going to encourage that sabotage to take place again...like a screw being left out.As they used to say, never buy a motor car that was produced on a Monday or Friday
    • Labor Senator George Campbell.
  • [S]calpels [will be] taken to the throats of members of the Liberal Party and The Nationals, particularly the female members … under the cover of darkness when everyone is asleep, and they will cut the throats of members of the Coalition from ear to ear
    • The Hon. Greg Donnelly in the New South Wales Legislativ Assembly, suggesting possible reprecussions of the legislation.
  • The Prime Minister has been waiting for this day for three decades, the day when he can finally impose his extreme ideology on Australian families. Well, Prime Minister, we are united in the war on terror but we are against you in your war on Australian workers.
    • Former Labor leader Kim Beazley, 10 November 2005
  • John Howard wants you working harder, longer and for less ... The only way to get rid of these extreme laws is to throw Howard out.
    • Kim Beazley at anti WorkChoices rally in Melbourne 2006
  • Even if an employer requests an employee to work on Anzac Day, the employee can refuse to work on reasonable grounds such as family responsibilities.
    • Joe Hockey, Workplace Relations Minister, April 2007