Howard’s economic arguments bagged left, right and centre

Many of these quotes were first aired on Four Corners. A full transcript of the program can be found on the ABC website at:

‘These types of changes are an article of faith for the Liberal Party and we’ve not seen the government try and justify these changes on economic grounds, not in any serious way. We have not seen them justify it certainly on fairness or equity grounds.’
Greg Combet, Secretary, ACTU

‘I think the real, the cruellest irony of these changes is that it will in fact retard productivity growth. It takes away the incentive for employers to think about other ways of using their labour more efficiently.’
Dr John Buchanan, Workplace Relations Centre, Sydney University.

‘We’ve failed in the last decade, under this government, to produce the skilled workforce the country needs. That and innovation in business and the problems we have with our infrastructure. That’s lowered labour productivity. That’s what’s got to be fixed.’
Kim Beazley, Leader of the Opposition.

‘It’s not legitimate to bully through change and reform which is, essentially, badly argued. Which is poorly motivated. Which comes from a competitive anger towards the labour movement.’
Senator Andrew Murray, Democrats Workplace Relations Spokesman.

‘What the changes will do is they will lead to the loss of penalty rates, the loss of overtime. That isn’t the same thing as increasing productivity. What that does is increases profits. But it doesn’t mean that if you cut somebody’s penalty rates that for a waitress in a cafe, that she’s carrying more plates per hour out to the restaurant. It means that she’s just getting paid less for it.’
Professor David Peetz, School Of Business, Griffith University.