Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Was the government planning to extend WorkChoices?

You bet.

Here's how, as described in the tender document for research that the Workplace Relations Minister won't release:

Leaked to the Labor Party, the document called for the contracted work to start on 14 May and finish on 13 July 2007.

From today' Age:

THE Government has succeeded in keeping secret hundreds of pages of documents that canvass options for another wave of industrial relations reform.

While Prime Minister John Howard and Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey insist WorkChoices will not change, their lawyers have locked down access to documents that show they have considered going further...

However, a 2 1/2-year freedom-of-information battle with the Prime Minister's department has failed to secure the release of details of the plans. In 2005 the department blocked the release of dozens of documents that showed how WorkChoices was formulated, and which discussed options for more reform.

The Government used "conclusive certificates" to reject the FoI application, saying it was not in the public interest for the documents to be exposed.

But the Seven network's freedom-of-information editor, Michael Mckinnon, appealed against that decision, and yesterday lost on the grounds that the Government should not have to explain "options initially considered but later discounted".

The Government argued that the documents' release "would lead to speculation about possible future workplace relations reforms which are not Government policy".