Time to Let Bosses and Workers Make the Choices

Sydney Morning Herald
25th October 2004

At the Centenary Convention of Conciliation and Arbitration, Justice Michael Kirby reportedly suggested there is "no room in this nation for industrial ayatollahs" who want a radical overhaul of workplace relations laws. This is most surprising given Justice Kirby's renowned 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 surely 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 prays that Justice Kirby, after completing an objective search for knowledge, will one day become part of the real world.