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Employment and Workplace Relations

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R.I.P WorkChoices?

Governor-General Michael Jeffery formally proclaimed the end of Australian Workplace Agreements at 10:45am yesterday, an event coinciding with the second anniversary of the introduction of the former Howard government's WorkChoices legislation.

The proclamation means that as of midnight last night, no new AWAs can be made. However, there seems to be some confusion in the media as to whether "Forward with Fairness" actually means the end of AWAs and the overturning of the WorkChoices regime.

Let me tell you - it doesn't. They will be with us for some time to come.

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No new AWAs - (now the name has changed)

"The Rudd government is making much of the announcement that there will be no new AWAs after midnight tonight - but I'd challenge any worker who has an ITEA stuck in front of them tomorrow to spot the difference," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"This is nothing like the end of AWAs that Australians voted for last November."

"Working people already on AWAs who voted to tear up Work Choices will be disappointed to learn that their AWAs could continue beyond the next election."

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Five more years of AWAs

"Working families who voted to tear up Work Choices will be disappointed to realise today that their AWAs could continue beyond the next election," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"Under the new so-called "Forward with Fairness" arrangements existing AWAs can continue up to and even beyond their five year expiry dates, and workers can still be offered a new type of individual workplace agreements - kind of an 'AWA-plus' - called an ITEA (individual transitional employment agreement)," she said.

"This is nothing like the end of Work Choices."

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Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness)

The Australian Greens have remained steadfastly opposed to all aspects of the changes to Australian workplaces brought in by Work Choices. We opposed the legislation at the time it was rushed through the parliament and we are well aware of the hardship it has caused many people in our community. The Greens believe passionately in a fair and just workplace and in fair and just workplace laws. We believe we need to respect the rights of workers and we are strong supporters of the Your Rights at Work campaign.

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IR Transition Bill needs amendment: Greens

The Australian Greens today tabled additional comments to the Government's majority report on the 'Forward with Fairness' transitional industrial relations bill in the Senate, putting forward a number of Green amendments.

"The Australian public made their stance very clear at the last election, when they voted overwhelmingly for an end to AWAs and an end to Work Choices," said Senator Rachel Siewert, the Australian Greens Industrial Relations spokesperson today.

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Greens welcome Welfare to Work overhaul

The Australian Greens today welcomed the Government's move to overhaul the welfare to work rules for single parents.

"Single mothers have suffered enormously under welfare to work's punitive measures. The $25-better-off commitment in particular was always ridiculous and should be scrapped," said Senator Rachel Siewert.

"However, we urge the government to also ensure that the welfare system is no longer a punitive and degrading experience for those in need."

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Address in Reply to Governor General

I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunawal people. It was a great pleasure to be at the first welcome to country that we had in this place on 12 February. I congratulate the government for having made sure that that happened. It was also a great privilege to be at this place when the apology was finally made.

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Greens call for doubling of carers' allowance

"The Prime Minister's personal guarantee that carers would not be adversely affected by budget cuts in May is simply not good enough," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"Carers are already one of the most disadvantaged groups in the community; the Government needs to go beyond just saying carers won't be adversely affected by the budget."

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