It may be time for Labor to produce a third IR policy
29 September 2007
(Sentences in brackets deleted by Ed)
Mike Steketee ("Rudd's pledges are on the never-never", Opinion 27/9) rightly points out that many ALP policies would only come to fruition over a lengthy time frame or, depending on Senate attitudes, possibly not at all. A similar comment might apply to some Coalition policy announcements. One ploy adopted by both major parties is to "disguise" the annual amount of an addition to spending or reduction in taxes by announcing the cost over four years.[ Another is to announce the pot of gold but make its realisation dependent on acceptance of objectives by future governments].
Steketee suggests Labor's industrial relations policy provides a very generous adjustment period for the abolition of AWAs and other workplace regulatory institutions too. But he does not ask an important follow-up question: what would happen to regulation in the transition period before Labor's key replacement institution, Fair Work Australia, starts to operate in 2010? Will the Australian Industrial Relations Commission assume responsibility for operating the award system on which Labor has put much emphasis or will that become the responsibility of the existing Fair Pay Commission? Will the Workplace Authority continue to have responsibility for regulating workplaces under existing laws or under new legislation to be submitted to the Senate? [How to achieve the certainty that Labor promises?]
Labor has issued two workplace relations plans to date. It may be time for a third.