Kirby's World

The Australian
25th October 2004

Brad Norington reports that, at the Centenary Convention of Conciliation and Arbitration (No Room for IR Ayatollahas: Kirby, 23 October), Justice Michael Kirby commented that there is "no room in this nation for industrial ayatollahs" who want a radical overhaul of workplace relations laws. This is, surely, rather surprising from someone renowned for his views on many aspects of modern life, views for which he would undoubtedly be severely punished in ayatollah land.

True, although himself claiming the freedoms of a modern society, Justice Kirby apparently opposes allowing employers and employees greater freedom to enter mutually beneficial employment contracts, and wants them governed by behavioural edicts by regulators and outside bodies (ayatollahs?). But his opposition must be based on a misunderstanding.

For example, the Industrial Relations Commission's minimum wage edicts do not, as he claims, provide a "fair go". Rather, they make it more difficult to obtain work for the two million people currently looking for it, while providing disproportionate benefit to higher income households.

One looks forward to the day when Justice Kirby, in an objective search for knowledge, becomes part of the real world