The Australian Institute of Employment Rights (AIER) has called for consideration and moderation from industrial parties commenting on the federal government’s new workplace relations laws.“The political polarisation that occurred under WorkChoices had a substantial impact on work place relationships on the ground,” said AIER Executive Director Lisa Heap.

“The last thing that we want to see is a continuation of this polarisation and the damage that it has caused. A rigorous debate about the merits of particular aspects of the Bill is fine and should be encouraged, however I would implore all industrial stakeholders to commit to a debate based on fact and with an eye to the impact that any comments have on workplace culture and understanding rather than on political grandstanding,” Ms Heap said.

Ms Heap’s comments come in light of the statement made this morning on Melbourne radio by Mr Chris Platt from the Australian Mines and Metals Association that the right of entry laws contained in the new Bill represented the greatest re-invigoration of trade union rights since Federation.

“I doubt that this statement could stand the test of scrutiny, and comments such as this do little to educate the general public and their understanding of the matters contained within the Bill,” Ms Heap said.

AIER welcomes aspects of the new industrial relations system included in the new Bill however it will subject the Bill to a rigorous assessment based on its ten principles contained in the Australian Charter of Employment Rights.

Ms Heap said the AIER believes that the achievement of fairness in Australian workplaces rests not only with changes to workplace laws but also with a desire to change workplace culture.

“We have to tackle the adversarial and winner take all culture that WorkChoices encouraged. Tackling this cultural problem requires new foundations and a broader vision. It’s a vision that can be undermined by comments aimed at political point scoring,” Ms Heap said.

Media contact: Lisa Heap, AIER Executive Director, 03 9647 9102 / 0418 996 354.