Opposition claims Australian Treasurer misled parliament

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Peter Costello

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello is facing controversy for the second time in three weeks following the release of a treasury document circulated on October 6, 2005, claiming that the government's Work Choices Act could suppress labour productivity in the short-term.

In November, 2005, when questioned in parliament Costello denied that any report or modelling had been done by the Treasury. When speaking on ABC Radio, Costello claimed that the document is a "minute" not a report and therefore he did not mislead parliament. He later went on to say that the "report" had cemented the government's claim that the industrial relations reforms will have economic benefits in the long term. Costello further explained that a key phrase in the minute, relating to job numbers, was misprinted, and should read "jobs should not fall" instead of "jobs should now fall".

The report also stated that under the new system minimum wage increases are likely to be smaller than those made in the past by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.