An Open Letter to all Coalition MP’s and Senators

Sent earlier this evening:

I write to you out of deep concern regarding the Coalition’s position on Julia Gillard’s euphemistically titled “Fair Work” legislation. Indeed, the  naming of such legislation “Fair Work” can only be described as Orwell at his finest – a far more apt term would be the “Job-Killing Act of 2009”. As a young Australian, I am deeply troubled about my future prospects in life if you allow Labor to get away with this radical, highly ideological legislation with Coalition support.

There can be no doubt that the Coalition needs to move beyond  the WorkChoices legacy. A new narrative needs to be framed, whereby the Coalition embraces the rights of workers, and adopts a forward thinking position without dwelling on the past.

In its rush to distance itself from the WorkChoices legacy, however, I fear that the Coalition is embarking upon a course that is not only contrary to the fundamental values that underpin the Liberal and National Parties – those of individual freedom, small government and free markets , a course that not only sacrifices long-term political success for short term political expediency, but far more insidiously, a course that sells out future generations of Australians.

There is no doubt that if enacted, this legislation will cause massive disruption to the Australian economy. Businesses will be forced to stop hiring, and the economy will contract. The Costs of production will spiral, hurting consumers, and forcing many businesses to shut down. As a result, unemployment shall skyrocket – by some estimates up to 15%. Particularly affected would be my generation – locked out of the labour market and forced onto the downward spiral of welfare dependency.

Such legislation would be disastrous at the best of times. In the midst of a global economic crisis, it is not merely economic vandalism – it is economic suicide. This is not a point made out of ideology. My personal belief in the inherent right of freedom of contract is not at play here. Rather, this is a practical statement on the effects of this legislation undisputed by all major economists. I am merely stating fact.

I certainly recognise the need for working within currently accepted political frameworks, and acknowledging the realities of the current situation. And I certainly recognize that the ALP has some mandate to repeal WorkChoices. This mandate, however, does not extend to dragging Australia’s IR system back to the 1920;s under this radical proposal. Nor does it excuse us from our responsibility for standing up for what is right. In any event, an approach which supports this legislation – whether it be with some amendments or not – will lead to long term political disaster for the Coalition.

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, when the effect of the legislation becomes felt – when masses of Australians become unemployed, their home finances unbearable – the Coalition shall be unable to say “we told you so”. The Coalition shall have no credibility whatsoever in framing an alternative vision; no coherent argument to put.  Secondly, and more worrying in the long term, it shackles the Coalition in ability to deliver true reform once we’re in government. Indeed how can we implement what is good for the country when we have already ceded the intellectual ground to the left? How can we credibly compete in the battle of ideas when we have already waved the white flag of surrender? As someone who believes in the vision of the Liberal and National Parties, it horrifies me that we are painting ourselves into a corner where, once in government, we will be unable to enact true reform because we have not laid the foundation.

Why do you expect the Australian public is sceptical of industrial relations reform? Why do you think that the British and New Zealand Labour Parties governed with IR legislation of a far more free market nature than even WorkChoices? The answer is simple. Because they engaged in the battle of ideas long term. They laid the framework. And won. Now is the time for us to start laying the groundwork for our future actions. Actions that shall practically benefit all Australians.

As a senior labour market expert recently commented, “Opposing the Gillard Bill should be a simple matter. It will increase unemployment at a time of economic uncertainty and plummeting business confidence. It will make recovery from the forthcoming recession much more difficult, particularly if the unfair dismissals changes are passed. What is more problematic is how the Coalition parties are going to take the labour market debate forward.”

I passionately believe in the Coalition’s principles, and that Coalition governments deliver the best results for all Australians – urge you to oppose this legislation. Minor details – like whether the dismissal is 15 or 20 is irrelevant. This legislation violates the rights of workers, will force many ‘working families’ to become “Centrelink families”, and will decimate the Australian economy. More importantly, it will prevent the Coalition from both using election winning arguments in 2010 and from enacting true reform once in government

Now if the time for us to come up with a true alternative. Not just block this legislation, but present a true vision for a prosperous Australia. One based on sound economic principles, and freedom of choice.

I await your thought out response to the specific points I raised with you.

Yours sincerely,
Tim Andrews

Let us see who responds…

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4 Responses to “An Open Letter to all Coalition MP’s and Senators”

  1. Ben Raue Says:

    “dragging Australia’s IR system back to the 1920;s”

    More like the early 2000s. Which was a time of such disastrous economic turmoil.

  2. Possum Comitatus Says:

    The National Party believes in “individual freedom, small government and free markets”! WTF!?!

    “the effects of this legislation (are) undisputed by all major economists” such as unemployment estimates of “up to 15%”, where young people will be “locked out of the labour market and forced onto the downward spiral of welfare dependency.”!

    Good grief.

    Open letters work best when they maintain some intimate relationship with reality and leave the juvenile polemics at the door.

  3. Tim Says:

    The second of those points is well grounded in reality!
    The first…hmm… well…yeah… lol

  4. Michael Says:

    Good letter Tim.

    And it is always refreshing to know that Possum doesn’t pretend to be non-partisan in his writings — because his endless plethora of statistics that say, essentially, “the coalition won’t win” are quickly demolished by a few points courtesy of William Bowe. There needs to be a disclaimer on your blog stating “Labor hack” Possum.

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