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A time for Turnbull to lead, not to equivocate on policy
letter published in The Australian, 17 September 2009

While Paul Kelly identifies some problems facing the Liberal Party in framing policies, (“Economic reform a minefield for Turnbull”, 16/9), he omits one important one - leadership.

Malcolm Turnbull’s recent statement on workplace relations policy, in which he neither ruled individual contracts in nor out, suggests an indecisiveness and failure to identify the powerful arguments supporting reform that were overlooked under the Howard government.

He should surely be appealing to the more than 800,000 Australian businesses which compete with each other for labour and who, contrary to Ms Gillard’s absurd assertions, do not have any group capacity to force wages down or impose “unfair” conditions.

Of course, legal remedies must be available to individual employees (and employers) where contract breaches occur or are threatened. But a reform agenda should also recognise that individual employees have bargaining power, as shown by the well over one million employees who each (normal) year leave their jobs voluntarily.  

By contrast, Labor’s return to regulation has already been identified in an important recent address by Melbourne barrister, Stuart Wood, as substituting collective bargaining, aka “good faith” bargaining, for individual bargaining and undermining employers’ positions in ways that are deterring employment.

Des Moore
South Yarra, Vic      

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