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Letters Editor
Australian Financial Review
2nd April 2001

Dear Sir

Greg Combet is puzzled that the new Federal Minister for Workplace Relations, Tony Abbott could find "baffling" the existing arrangements for regulating employer-employee arrangements (29 March). Quite right!

After all, it should be relatively simple for a businessman to cope with a Workplace Relations Act that has only around 7,000 pages of sections, regulations and rules and that covers about 4,500 awards. Moreover, the average businessman will be well aware of the favourable treatment the business community receives from the Industrial Relations Commission and the Federal Court when unions challenge employers’ decisions on managing their workforces.

Indeed, the many decisions by these tribunals, both by single judges and on appeals to full benches and higher courts, have now established valuable precedents. Business can use these to plan the additions to investment that form the basis of employment confident in the knowledge of support from both unions and judiciary.

It is also puzzling that Minister Abbott should have felt the need to emphasise the rights of workers to sell their labour at the best possible price and conditions. Employers are now surely able to take full account of the costs of the sensible regulations flowing from legislation and judicial decisions. This creates a social obligation to ensure that unemployment is not allowed to increase during the current slow-down.