By The Editor
The Federal election campaign was notable for its lack of debate and difference in party policies on workplace relations, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott flatly ruling out any change to the current Fair Work Act – and its machinery – in this current three year term.
2011 may see the reopening of the debate about the Federal Government’s workplace relations reform, with Mr Abbott inviting business to contribute to a dialogue about the Fair Work system.
Mr Abbott confirmed his thoughts on the ABC on Sunday, telling Insiders that his “…door hasn’t been knocked down in the rush of people saying, ‘You’ve got to change Labor’s system’”.
“It’s now up to business and others to come to us if they think there are problems with the operation and implementation of Labor’s laws,” Mr Abbott said. “If people think there is a case for change they need to make that case for change.”
The Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (of which VECCI is a principal member), Peter Anderson, said the political parties needed to come to their own conclusions.
“My view is that you don’t need for laws to be ‘nightmarish’, to use Tony Abbott’s words, to warrant some change,” Mr Anderson said. “You don’t need business to be knocking down your door to see there’s some problems.”
Indeed, we’ve highlighted some of the issues employers have faced under the Fair Work Act throughout the year, such as:
- The increased time employers are spending dealing with industrial relations issues;
- The lack of flexibility that disallows students from working one or two hour after school shifts and associated impacts on businesses like newsagents.
- An overall restriction of the interpretation and application of flexibility in individual agreements.
VECCI and other business groups will continue to represent the interests of small business owners and present the evidence of the implications of the Fair Work Act. We look forward to a real debate about industrial relations recommencing in 2011.