New, fair and simple? No



The Australian,

18th June 2008


The sudden emergence now of "final" employment standards, even though not

applying until 2010, is presumably designed to divert attention from certain other matters. The important question, however, is whether Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Employment Minister Julia Gillard are correct in claiming they are new, fair and simple. The answer must surely be a resounding "No".


They are not all new ( a number existed under WorkChoices), they  will not be fair ( the employment prospects of the around 1.7 million Australians who want work or more of it are reduced by the additional regulations employers will face) and they are not simple (even a quick assessment of the 50 pages confirms they will be a lawyers paradise). Fair Work Australia  will have to decide, for example, whether it is "reasonable" for the 4.5 million people who now work over the maximum 38 hours a week to continue to do so. Rudd himself will presumably seek exemption.  


Any assessment of these "minimum conditions that can't be stripped away" has also to take account of what's to come.This will include a new award regime that may include additional legislated standards and will be applied under a quasi-judicial system that has a record of decision-making favouring unions and neglecting non-unionists. Labor shows every sign of fulfilling its undertaking to regulate workplace relations and of doing so in ways that will lower employment and productivity.