Sunday, 1 February 2015

Industrial Relations: if you thought Tony Abbott could not sink much lower....

Australian Government Productivity Commission media release, 22 January 2015:

The Productivity Commission has today released a suite of five issues papers relating to its current public inquiry into the performance of the Australian workplace relations framework.

The issues papers are intended to canvas all the big questions about Australia's workplace system. The Commission has asked Australians — employees, employers, unions, people not in work and others — to give their views about the best system for the future. While the Commission seeks detailed responses from key stakeholders, people can also make brief comments and can do so by going to its web page.

The Australian Government asked the Commission to undertake the wide-ranging inquiry into Australia's workplace relations system in late December 2014.

The chair of the Commission, Peter Harris, said: 'We know people hold passionate views about workplace relations. I'd like to emphasise that the Commission is open-minded, and our approach will be evidence-based and impartial. We know that a workplace relations system goes beyond its important economic impacts, and will take account of the human and social elements of what is at stake. We are required by our legislation to account of benefits to the community as a whole, and not any particular interest group'.

The Commission's five issues papers cover all the key aspects of the system: its objectives; the safety net provided by minimum wages, awards and the national employment standards; how people bargain in the system, the protections it provides employees, its compliance costs and its institutions.

Peter Harris said that 'The system is complex and interlinked, so the inquiry must be broad ranging. But just because we raise an issue does not mean we will recommend change in that area. We plan to undertake the analysis and hear what people think, and based on that we will reach conclusions. There will be substantial opportunity for public comment on any proposals'.

The Commission has indicated that it will entertain fresh ideas. The first issues paper says that the Commission 'is open to lateral suggestions so long as they are practical, beneficial and backed by solid evidence and argument'. It also asks for lessons from other countries' workplace relations systems.

The Commission is due to report by the end of November 2015, and will produce a draft report midyear, hold hearings after the draft and seek two rounds of submissions over the course of the inquiry. It is also looking at ways to make it easier for regional Australia to participate in this process.

The Commission is seeking initial public feedback on its issues papers by 13 March 2015.

Background information
Ralph Lattimore (Assistant Commissioner) 02 6240 3242
Requests for comment / other
Leonora Nicol (Media and Publications) 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443

It takes minimal research to realise that the Abbott Government hopes to use The Workplace Relations Framework: The Inquiry In Context: Issues Paper 1, January 2015 as a first step in introducing Work Choices Mark II, because none of those in the ranks of neo-conservative politics or self-interested business can wrap their minds around the fact that it is the effort of workers (more than average annual investment in a business) which sees owners garner both business and personal wealth.

Make no mistake Prime Minister Tony Abbott & his merry band of fascisti are intent on attacking the basis of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay by dismantling minimum wages, the award system (which includes penalty rates) and National Employment Standards.

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