Hang onto your cash, says Rudd
By MARGARET DENNIS
WORKERS should beware the Howard Government's industrial relations reform, a Labor forum at Yamba at the weekend was told.
Federal Opposition Foreign Affairs, International Security and Minister for Trade spokesman Kevin Rudd, the keynote speaker, said '(Prime Minister) John Howard was a law unto himself' now the Coalition had control of the Senate.
Mr Rudd said he was particularly concerned about the impact of Mr Howard's changes to workplace relations laws. Changes would not just affect people in the city or Canberra, but their impact would be 'huge for the whole community', with employers having the power to reduce workers' conditions.
The changes would effectively get rid of any independent umpire and every worker's employment conditions ? sick leave and recreational leave ? would be affected.
Mr Rudd also discussed the possible ramifications of a free trade agreement with China, including labour standards in that country and human rights issues.
The Yamba forum brought in 60 ALP members from the four North Coast electorates of Richmond, Page, Cowper and Lyne on Saturday. Branch members met for a regional assembly, one of many held throughout the State on the weekend, to discuss issues of concern at all levels of government.
The assemblies are a means for regional branch members to debate various issues. Specific motions are put forward and debated, then passed to the party office in Sydney, as well as to the relevant ministers and shadow ministers.
Discussions centred around education, transport ? in particular road funding ? ongoing unemployment on the North Coast, and industrial relations.
The assembly gave regional members the opportunity to debate and talk to people such as Mr Rudd, in a relaxed atmosphere.
ALP member Angela Rock said the meeting was upbeat and positive, and those attending felt encouraged by the many guest speakers, including Senator Michael Forshaw and duty MLC Greg Donnelly.
And what did Mr Rudd have to say about the venue?
"Yamba is a piece of heaven".