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Gov't can't hide truth about IR laws

08 August 2007

A new scandal to hit the Howard Government’s IR ads today shows that it cannot hide the truth about its unfair IR laws – the fact is the laws leave young workers vulnerable to being exploited, says the ACTU.

The scandal has forced Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey to urgently take Government pro-WorkChoices ads off air with revelations that an actor starring in the ads also ran a painting business in Melbourne and allegedly ripped off junior workers thousands of dollars.

The Government's extraordinary action follows an investigation by a major newspaper into the actor who hypocritically appears in the $37 million taxpayer-funded IR ads as a 'concerned father' that says: "I'm being told employers can rip off young kids."

ACTU President Sharan Burrow commented on the scandal today:

"Changing names, or taking ads off air cannot hide the fact that the Howard Government's WorkChoices IR laws leave young and vulnerable workers exposed to exploitation."

"Only days ago it was revealed that the Howard Govt's workplace watchdog had approved it was legal for a 20 year old young woman working for a diving tour company in Cairns to be paid less than $3 an hour.

Today we find that the Howard Government has wasted $37 million of taxpayers' money on IR advertisements that star an actor who himself is alleged to have ripped off young workers.

The report states that the actor/painter owes one young man up to $2,000 and threatened him with violence when he came to his home seeking payment of his wages.

The ACTU understands that the young worker had given up trying to recover the wages he was owed but was appalled when he saw his former boss featuring in the saturation Govt IR ad campaign.

His parents were also galled to see the man who had ripped off their son star in the taxpayer-funded pro-WorkChoices advertisements.

The Government has lost all credibility on this issue.

This is the problem that the Howard Government cannot hide -- people know that WorkChoices has left many workers worse off and that young people have been badly affected by these unfair IR laws," said Ms Burrow.

Underpaid workers to visit Parliament

At the opening of Federal Parliament after its winter recess today (Tuesday), the ACTU will highlight the cases of workers who have been underpaid and exploited by employers using the Howard Government's WorkChoices IR laws.

The workers will draw attention to the hypocrisy of the Howard Government which has spent $37 million of taxpayers' money on misleading advertising for its new workplace bureaucracy while its WorkChoices IR laws remain fundamentally unfair.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said: "Changing names, or taking ads off air cannot hide the fact that the Howard Government's WorkChoices IR laws leave young and vulnerable workers exposed to exploitation."

"Prime Minister John Howard and Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey should explain to these two workers who are coming to Parliament House today why the Government is wasting so much taxpayers' money on advertising but failing to protect their rights at work:"



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