The Changing Industrial Relations Framework in Australia

The following is a presentation given to the 2013 HR Nicholls Society Annual Conference:

I’d like to take you on a brief journey as we sit as passengers on the bus the Government have put us in.  As we drive through the changing IR Landscape in Australia, peering out through the window with no control over which roads we take, which direction we head or how fast or slow we hit those bumps along the way.  This is how things have looked for businesses and practitioners over the last few years!

There have been many changes to the Australian Industrial Relations system since Kevin Rudd was elected as Prime Minister in 2007.

Firstly the Workplace Relations Act was replaced with the Fair Work Act (‘FWA’).

It took some time for a number of the changes to be tested and for their true impact to be realised.  Unfortunately for the Australian Economy, the impact on business, on jobs, and on productivity, have indeed been realised.

As time has moved on, there have been an increasing number of changes to our Employment Framework. These changes have become increasingly ill-considered, increasingly reactive, increasingly union friendly, increasingly anti-business, increasing lacking in consultation and increasingly damaging to how the world sees us as a place to do business.

The level of interference in the management of private and public businesses and in our “independent umpires” has reached unprecedented levels.

Let’s take a look at our Employment Tribunal

It’s pretty typical for an incumbent Government to make appointments to tribunals and courts from their side of the political fence.  However, over the last 5 or so years we have seen the vast majority of appointments come from the Union side of the fence and I think it would be fair to say that this has resulted in a shift in the perceived independence of the Fair Work Commission.

Here as some examples of union appointments since 2007:

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