Employment Minister Andrews has today admitted that the Government is not interested in fairness in Australian workplaces.

In a major speech in Melbourne today outlining the Government’s agenda for
industrial relations reforms, Mr Andrews claimed that ideas of ‘fairness’ in
workplaces were ‘misconceived’ and that ‘…an emphasis on fairness only leads
to regulatory excess and inefficiency’.

Detailing the Government’s long-term agenda in workplace relations, Mr
Andrews gave support to business plans to:

  • Undertake a hostile take-over of all State industrial relations systems that
    currently cover about half the Australian workforce.
  • Eliminate basic award protections that are reported to include long service
    leave, jury service leave, notice of termination, and superannuation
  • Scrap unfair dismissal laws, and
  • Abolish the role of the independent AIRC in setting minimum wages and
    conditions and settling industrial disputes.
  • In response to the Minister’s statements, ACTU President Sharan Burrow

    “From July 1 this year the Federal Government will have control of the

    What Mr Andrews has said today is that he wants to use John Howard’s
    legislative blank cheque to eliminate any idea of fairness from Australian

    Minister Andrews has made it clear that the Government’s agenda is all about
    creating workplaces where people work harder and longer for less – that will be
    bad for employees, it will be bad for families and ultimately it’s the wrong
    direction for Australia.

    The Government’s workplace agenda is a step down the low road to economic

    It’s a path to cheapen working Australians in a race to the bottom that we
    can never win.

    Where is the Government’s plan to improve productivity and opportunities for
    Australians through investing in people’s skill, business innovation, economic
    infrastructure and co-operative approaches to workplace relations?

    Mr Andrews has also failed to outline how the Government’s plans for reform
    would give employees a genuine right to have a say in the type of agreement –
    whether individual contract or collective agreement – covering their workplace.
    A right they currently don’t have in Australia.

    Fairness and real choices for employees are clearly absent from the
    Government’s agenda.”