The dispute between the federal and NSW Labor governments on workplace safety laws is another glaring example of how Labor has lost control of the COAG reform agenda, said Senator Marise Payne, Shadow Minister for COAG.
“Again we see the Rudd-Gillard Government resorting to threats and heavy-handedness to try and force through its national workplace safety laws,” said Senator Payne.
“This is reminiscent of the incompetent approach of the Rudd Government which still couldn’t get all the states to agree to its national health reforms, despite splashing out billions of dollars in inducements.
“The Rudd-Gillard Government’s inability to implement national reforms means that NSW taxpayers face the real risk of being stuck with NSW Labor’s inferior union-friendly workplace laws and being deprived of $144 million in extra funding.
“This government can’t even broker an agreement with its state Labor counterparts on the width of trucks that are allowed to cross each other’s borders so sadly, it comes as no surprise that it struggles to achieve major reforms like occupational health and safety.
“It seems the Kevin Rudd approach of coercive federalism, instead of the promised co-operative federalism, is here to stay under Julia Gillard.
“Premier Keneally is also not helping with her staunch support for union mates ahead of employers and workers.
“So far the only so-called “co-operative federalism” we have seen from Labor is when it announced the Parramatta to Epping rail link in a cynical ploy to buy off marginal seat voters in the recent election campaign. We have yet to see if that actually eventuates.
“Every other stakeholder who received assurances from the Rudd-Gillard Government about important national reforms like closing the gap on indigenous disadvantage, business and regulatory reform and transport and road reform should be rightly sceptical of those commitments in the wake of the current standoff.”