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Attorney-General unable to defend Bill of Rights

Freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights Act will be undermined by the Employment Relations legislation, according to Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) Employment Relations Manager, Peter Tritt.

"The public cannot expect its fundamental freedoms under the Bill of Rights to be properly protected while the Attorney-General, who is charged with protecting them, is also in charge of the new employment relations law," Mr Tritt said.

"The Employment Relations Bill erodes four basic freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion and freedom from unfair discrimination. The public is entitled to know how the Government intends to protect these rights.

"The Employment Bill prohibits anyone expressing an ‘unreasonably' held opinion deemed likely to mislead or deceive others. The Bill of Rights allows the freedom to express any opinion, however unreasonable it may seem to others.

"The Bill's central proposition is that the benefits of collective agreements will be available only to union members. This undermines the rights of individual New Zealanders to freedom of association, freedom of religion and freedom from unfair discrimination as many thousands of New Zealanders exempt themselves from union membership on religious and other grounds.

"After August 1st, 2000, it will become illegal for many thousands of employees currently covered by collective contracts, who don't have a union representing them, to continue with their collective agreement. ‘No union, no collective agreement’ is the Government's message to them.

"The Government's ‘one size fits all' prescription for employment relations is out of place in today’s diversified economy, and out of step with long-standing individual rights guaranteed to every New Zealander."

ends

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