Julia Gillard lobbies major firms on safety laws
The Opposition and minor parties in the Senate have insisted on amendments to
increase employer and union representatives on the new body Safe Work Australia
and prevent the minister from being able to veto appointments to the body.
But Ms Gillard has rejected all of these changes and has taken the unusual step
of setting the bill aside altogether.
Her letter said: "Put bluntly, there is a significant risk that the
Opposition's actions in not supporting the Safe Work Australia Bill 2008 may
see the opportunity to harmonise Australia's Occupational Health and Safety
legislation lost for years to come.
"If you share my concerns I urge you to contact the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP,
Leader of the Opposition, about the party's failure to support such an
important economic reform."
Ms Gillard argued the amendments would undermine an agreement between the
states and commonwealth and delay national occupational health and safety laws.
Opposition industrial relations spokesman Michael Keenan said Ms Gillard was
drunk on power and had ignored the fact that even the ACTU supported the
"It is a telling fact that the ACTU strongly supports our amendments," he said.
"In the Senate, the amendments were supported by every non-government senator
-- the Greens and the independent senators. I ask you this -- how often do you
see the Coalition, the Greens, Senator (Nick) Xenophon and the ACTU in
He said the Coalition was wrongly being accused of jeopardising a harmonised
national occupational health and safety system.
"We are also told that the minister will now write to the top 200 companies in
the country and explain to them how the Coalition has allegedly stood in the
way of a national system," he said to business leaders yesterday.
"This is kindergarten politics -- if you don't do things my way ... I am going
to take my bat and ball and go home."