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OUR SAY: Workplace reform a dirty term, thanks to Reith

Former Prime Minister John Howard's Workchoices legacy is still poisoning any discussion of workplace reform
Former Prime Minister John Howard's Workchoices legacy is still poisoning any discussion of workplace reform Scott Powick

HISTORY is more than just what happened yesterday, it gives us perspective on our world right now.

So it is more than a little disconcerting when anyone tries to rewrite history for their own purposes, as with former Federal Liberal Workplace Relations Minister in the Howard government, Peter Reith.

Mr Reith urged the Abbott government on Friday to take a "big bang approach" in changing Australia's industrial relations, after the Productivity Commission released discussion papers about industrial relations reform.

Of course, the report drew an angry response from unions.

Since Mr Reith and WorkChoices Mark IV overstepped the fairness mark in 2006, politicians have been tip-toeing around the issue.

WorkChoices Mark IV became a driver behind the Howard government's election loss.

It had gone a step too far.

It was a government error.

But Mr Reith on Friday decided to rework history. His spin was that "Rudd and Gillard decided that they wanted to go back to the sort of 1970s".

It was wrong.

It was misleading. And it is one of the reasons the issue remains so hard to discuss.

 

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