Australia's former Labor prime minister attacks foreshadowing of Work Choices

December 2, 2009 3:36 pm 

CANBERRA, Dec. 2 — Australia's former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke says unions might have to reignite their fight against Work Choices if new opposition leader Tony Abbott brings back elements of the former government's policy.

After winning a party room vote on Tuesday to become the Liberals' new leader, Abbott refused to rule out a return to some components of the Work Choices industrial relations regime, according to the Australian Associated Press.

"I think we should be very much concerned that Tony Abbott has signaled that he intends to go back into the territory of industrial relations that was launched (in) the Work Choices legislation by John Howard," Hawke told a book launch on Wednesday.

He said the union movement's campaign against the "fundamental inequity, indecency and obscenity" of the legislation before the 2007 federal election had been critical to the electoral result.

Hawke stressed the new Liberal leader – a Rhodes scholar like himself – would be a more formidable opponent than his predecessors but said any throwback to Work Choices was "a very ominous sign".

"There's no doubt that right across the spectrum in all the traditional ranks of the Liberal Party there was an objection to the unfairness of Work Choices."

One week before his 80th birthday, Hawke warned the next 12 months could be "more testing than expected" for the unions if the opposition returned to its controversial industrial relations policy. (PNA/Xinhua)

DCT/ebp

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