Workplace Relations Reform

Federal Liberal candidate for Bass Andrew Nikolic needs to clarify whether he agrees with Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s plan to drive down penalty rates should he win government in September, Senator Polley said today.

When asked about abolishing penalty rates at a Liberal Party organised forum in South Australia, the Opposition leader indicated that the only way to bring this about would be for a federal government to pursue the Fair Work Commission and convince the independent umpire to drastically alter penalty rates.

“It is clear that Tony Abbott wants to reduce the pay and conditions of Australian workers. We need to remember that undermining and cutting penalty rates was a key part of the dreaded WorkChoices legislation under the last Liberal government.

“Tony Abbott has consistently refused to reveal his own workplace relations policy but every week, piece by piece, it is becoming clear what his strategy is - it is WorkChoices by stealth”, Senator Polley said.

Senator Polley believes that Andrew Nikolic needs to stand up and inform the people of Bass whether he agrees with these policies.

“Voters of Bass have a right to know just where Andrew Nikolic stands on this. Is he also committed to reducing pay and conditions? We all know the views of his federal Tasmanian Liberal colleagues like Eric Abetz, Abbott’s workplace relations spokesperson.

During the 2010 federal election campaign, Mr Abetz was basically banned from media appearances after he went a little off-message and promised to change workplace laws. Does Andrew Nikolic support the extreme views of various Liberal colleagues or does he actually care about the welfare of the people in Bass?” Senator Polley asked.

Senator Polley also maintains that Andrew Nikolic needs to determine just where his priorities lie less than five months out from the September 14 federal election. 

“The people of Bass deserve better. Andrew Nikolic needs to decide what is more important - abiding by the party line coming from the nation’s capital, where he lived for many years, or looking after the hard working people of an electorate he wants to represent.

“He must immediately rule out ever supporting changes that would unreasonably reduce the pay and conditions of workers and he must do it without hesitation or delay.”