Thursday 22nd November 2007
Your vote will make a difference to you and your family
Message from the general secretary
A referendum on WorkChoices
This federal election is a pivotal moment for Australian workers and their families.
It is an opportunity for us to decide what sort of society we want our children to inherit from us.
At stake is your right, and your children’s future right, to a good job with fair pay and decent workplace conditions.
Before we vote we have to ask ourselves the question: do we want our kids to enter a workplace where they will have fewer rights then we have enjoyed and where they will be treated without any of the respect and dignity they deserve?
WorkChoices, the radical industrial relations laws introduced by the Howard government after the last federal election, threaten the rights at work that generations of nurses have fought for. Rights, perhaps, we had come to take for granted.
These laws have been roundly condemned by church leaders, academics, economists and community organisations.
Unions, including the NSWNA, recognised early the threat to our members’ livelihoods that are posed by these laws. We have taken up our responsibility and fought them tooth and nail.
The Howard government at various times over the past year has grudgingly conceded the unpopularity and unfairness of these laws. Instead of ripping up the laws, they have resorted to trickery and spin to keep them in place.
First, they introduced a so-called ‘fairness test’ that has so many exemptions you could drive a bus through it. Then, they spent over $130 million of taxpayers’ money on advertising to promote them.
Report after report has shown the falsehood of their claims.
This election is clearly a referendum on WorkChoices. John Howard never mentioned these laws in the lead-up to the last election. He was never given a mandate by the Australian people to implement them.
But this election is different. You have an opportunity to vote out these laws.
Your vote can help protect your penalty rates and other workplace conditions fought for by those nurses who came before us.
Historically, the NSWNA has been unaligned to any political party but we have never shirked from taking political positions in the interests of our members.
Unfortunately, the Howard government has left us with no choice. The only way to get rid of these laws is to get rid of the government that made them.
Don’t forget the Senate
The last federal election showed us the importance of the Senate. John Howard would never have been able to pass his IR laws without gaining control of the Senate.
To reverse this position, which has had such a damaging impact on our democracy, it is vital that we change the composition of the Senate.
Both the ALP and the Greens have committed to ripping up WorkChoices and it is important that between them they have the numbers to pass fairer legislation that an incoming government would implement.
Please consider this closely when you cast your vote.