ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard Marles welcomes new faces to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Today is a great day because it is a part of the reinvigorating of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission with new blood.

We in the Labour Movement welcome the shear fact that new people are being appointed to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

The union movement is passionate about the Commission. Nothing characterises a nation more than the conditions in which its people work. And for nearly 100 years working people have looked to the Commission and its predecessors to establish standards in the way that one person employs another.

It is a uniquely Australian thing that these standards are not dryly established through legislation but rather through the debate and inquiry which occurs in this place. It is a debate which is conducted and owned by the mass of employers and workers who make up the Australian workplace. This may be a third party but it is one more intimately connected with the workplace than any of its international equivalents.

This place has been and continues to be a facilitator, mediator, and ultimately an umpire in the employment relationship.

We draw much of our pleasure in life from human relationships. And our work relationships are some of our most important. To be a protector and nurturer of the employment relationship is surely a grand thing to be.

In a larger sense the role of the umpire as played by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission is a big part of the consensus among all of our citizens which characterises Australian society.

Rob Cartwright has had experience in representing Telstra in Australia’s largest workplace. He brings with him enormous practical expertise.

Mathew O’Callaghan has experience in representing employers in South Australia but also in pursuing the government’s role in industrial relations. These will be important skills to bring to this forum.

Brian Lacey and Les Kaufman have both had distinguished legal careers in representing the players on the industrial stage in this forum and others. They will both be fair and rigorous jurists.

All four of these people bring credit to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. They will make a great contribution.

You will all now become part of one of the critical pillars which upholds what it is to be an Australian. We in the union movement are gratified that you have made the decision to devote the next part of your careers to that endeavour.