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My letter published below preceded the decision made yesterday by Justice Marshall to grant an injunction prohibiting the restriction of access and egress to site where a water treatment plant is being constructed. Marshall also concluded that a leading unionist who was amongst those involved in restricting access may have breached the Fair Work Act. This is to be considered on 6 March.

This decision was reached despite Justice Marshall’s expressed concern with the evidence given by industrial relations consultant, Ms Grace Collier. Yet her secret recordings of interviews with the said official of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union undoubtedly exposed his involvement of the picketing of the site . Already used in crime detection, secret recordings may now be needed by employers for detection of union strategies used to evade legal restrictions.

Ms Collier has, incidentally, provided analyses to the HR Nicholls Society and to that Society’s annual conference.

Meantime, note that Treasurer Swan had to correct his statement to Parliament yesterday that the unemployment rate is 5.1%: it is in fact 5.4%. A proper answer would also have acknowledged the marked slow-down in growth of employment and the increasing proportion of those of working age who have given up looking for work. This group are NOT included in the official unemployed figures.

Des Moore

No medal for IR
(Letter published in The Australian Financial Review, 15 February 2013.
Square brackets deleted by Ed)

Justice Shane Marshall has expressed grave concerns about evidence given by Grace Collier based on secret recordings of interviews with an official of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union in regard to the picketing of a building site (“Recording device hidden in bra, court told”, 13/1).

Justice Marshall, who has a medal for services to industrial relations, did not, however, express any concern about the obvious “secret” attempt by the union to avoid responsibility for the picket by pretending this lay with a community group.

Your editorial points out that Labor is turning a blind eye to such blockades at a time when companies face additional regulation of a labour market [ that is already acting as a deterrent to investment and employment]. Indeed, as revealed in the Reserve Bank’s latest statement on monetary policy, capital expenditure intentions in both the mining and non-mining sectors have fallen and the growth in employment is now running only slightly above the low rate experienced during the global financial crisis.

One wonders if Labor will award itself a medal for economic management.

Des Moore
Institute for Private Enterprise

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