May 10, 2009 – 6:59PM
Labor’s Left faction will push the Rudd government to develop renewable energy sources as a way of creating “green” jobs.
It will also press for further changes to industrial relations laws at the next Australian Labor Party (ALP) national conference, to be held in Sydney at the end of July.
It will be the first national party conference in more than two years, and the first since Labor returned to government federally in 2007.
The party’s National Left faction met in Canberra on Saturday and Sunday to discuss a range of policy areas, including the fallout of the global financial crisis.
A National Left convenor, NSW Senator Doug Cameron, said the meeting endorsed the government’s revamped climate change policy announced on Monday by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
The government decided to delay by 12 months the start of its carbon pollution reduction scheme to July 1, 2011, and extended its reduction targets from five per cent to 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, depending on the outcome of the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.
But Senator Cameron said the Left believed more should be done to develop renewable energy and carbon capture and storage as a way to create green jobs.
“There’s employment available in a whole range of areas: tidal power, wind power, geothermal, solar and we believe there must be an even more focused approach,” Senator Cameron told AAP.
“We’re not arguing for closing the coal industry by any stretch of the imagination.”
The meeting also discussed a number of issues to do with the new Fair Work industrial relations system, most of which will begin operating on January 1, 2010.
As expected, the Left expressed its unhappiness with the continued existence until 2010 of the industry watchdog the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and the plan to transfer much of its powers to the new industrial body Fair Work Australia.
Senator Cameron said there was also concern about the new good faith bargaining rules, due to begin on July 1 along with new unfair dismissal rules.
“The range of changes introduced by the government are a good start but there may be other areas we will want to look at in terms of bargaining,” he said.
These included concerns that if an employer breaches an agreement the only means to deal with it is conciliation.
“There was quite a range of views that workers should be entitled, if there’s a clear breach of a contract, they should be able to take industrial action to force the employer to ensure the contract is fulfilled,” Senator Cameron said.
While Labor abolished Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) and will bring enterprise level bargaining back as the mainstay of industrial relations, many unions felt the legislation did not go far enough.
© 2009 AAP