Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Commencement of the Fair Work Act 2009

Download PDFDownload PDF

Wed, 1st July 2009

Commencement of the Fair Work Act 2009

Mr Michael Keenan MP Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

The test of the Labor’s new industrial relations system will be its impact on employment, productivity, and workplace harmony.

The Fair Work Act 2009 will recast the way in which workers and enterprise relate to each other.

Concepts that we had all thought were consigned to the dustbins of the past, now re-emerge stronger and more potent than before. Industry wide protracted strikes, inflationary wage outcomes, payment of “go-away” dismissal money and a “one-size fits all” approach to workplace conditions will soon become, again, the norm.

These outcomes are universally recognised by all as damaging to the economy, productivity and the relationships between workers and enterprise.

Trade unions will now have more power than any time in the workplace relations history of this country.

They can enter any workplace, force employees and employers to bargain and impose an agenda that will have little bearing on the interests of a business and its workers. Workplaces will have to set a new place at the table for unions, whether the workers or the business like it or not.

The Fair Work Act is bad law that will neuter innovation and workplace advancement, making our road to economic recovery even harder.

The prime example of the roadblock to recovery this system imposes is Julia Gillard’s bungled system of so-called “modern awards.”

Already it is obvious that this ‘one size fits all’ approach will cost thousands of Australian workers their jobs, reduce the availability of important community services, increase the price of everyday goods and give business yet another reason to not grow and not employ more workers.

There is one basic question that Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd seem unable to answer - how will making it more expensive to employ workers help shorten the ever growing lines of the unemployed?

From today onwards, the Coalition will be carefully assessing this legislation against a number of criteria, three of which are particularly relevant.

The first of these is jobs. Every month there will be a report card for jobs figures and it’s from that report card that we and all Australians will know the real impact of this law on jobs.

The second is the impact of Fair Work on productivity and business growth. Will this system encourage business to grow and expand? Will it cause a re-think of expansion plans or cause a second thought to taking on that extra weekend casual? Even worse, will it cause more Australian jobs to be lost off-shore?

The third will be workplace harmony. The new laws encourage and facilitate strike action, pattern bargaining and the old days where the country came to a grinding halt. Working days lost through industrial action, already trending upwards, will spike.

Reversing reforms in favour of an outdated ideology will have consequences and the indicators outlined above will be an ongoing scorecard for Labor’s new system.