The 'Ayatollahs' of IRSunday Age
Paul Heinrich reports an address by Bob Hawke pleading that Prime Minister Howard discuss IR reforms with the ACTU and avoid taking a confrontationist road (Let's Talk about IR, Hawke begs PM, 24/10). He also reports Justice Michael Kirby's provocative remarks to the same conference that "there is no room in this nation for industrial ayatollahs who wanted a radical overhaul of workplace relations laws".
[My historical research reveals that] The AIRC's establishment in 1904 almost certainly contributed to Australia's subsequent high rate of industrial disputation. [, including when Mr Hawke was President of the ACTU. Industrial disputation has since fallen but remains high internationally.]
[Further, the AIRC's] And its minimum wage edicts do not, as [Justice] Kirby claims, provide a "fair go"; rather, they make it more difficult to obtain work for the 2 million people currently looking for it, while providing disproportionate benefit to higher income households.
[In his address, Justice] Kirby also accuses me of living in "a remote world of fantasy" for wanting to abolish the commission. [AIRC But] My proposal is that it should become an advisory, mediatory body along [similar] the lines of Britain's [ to the successful UK] Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service[That body], which is widely used by both employees and employers. [and] Unlike the commission [AIRC], it encourages the conclusion of mutually beneficial arrangements between employers and employees rather than [instead of] issuing ayatollah-like behavioural edicts.