I am not quite sure why there is not more outrage about Bill Shorten’s (MBA) quite brazen effort to further contaminate the membership of Fair Work Australia by appointing two unrequired Vice Presidents. This will come about as a result of the shonky amemdments to the Fair Work Act that were rushed through parliament at the end of the year.
Clearly, Shorten wants to create some sort of legacy by appointing mates and committed IR clubbers as members of FWA who have jobs for life. The government has already gone overboard with tribunal stacking, with virtually all appointments to FWA either union officials or Labor friendlies. It is interesting that Coalition governments are quite reserved about this sort of thing, but Labor’s attitude is that we are in power and will appoint only our maates – you’s can all get stuffed.
The fact that two current vice presidents, Graeme Watson and Michael Lawler, were appointed by the Howard government clearly irks this government, although their ability to influence any outcomes is very limited, particularly given the power of the president to allocate the work. In other words, continuous shipping news for Watson and Lawler basically sidelines them. in any case. This has already occurred.
The employer groups were seemingly united in their opposition to this amemdment to the act, with AMMA and ACCI particularly vocal. Initially, Ai Group – bless their hearts – were opposed too, but changed their mind to be OK with the whole thing as long as the appointments are based on merit. (AHAHAHAHA) This is surely code for an Ai Group person – methinks, Stephen Smith – being appointed one of the Vice Presidents.
Another completely egregious amendment to the act is the power that is now conferred on the president to change members hearing cases during the course of the case. Don’t like how that member is handing the issue, don’t like the questions he/she has been asking – moved on. I am sure this is violation of judicial independence – it is a bit like a chief justice removing a judge hearing a particular case. But not a squeek from anyone, it would seem.
The word from the inside is that the new president wants to exert his influence by creating factions – you are with him, or agin him – and the quality of the work allocated is determined on this basis. More generally, he has been pushing his weight around in a way that was unheard of in the day of Geoff Guidice. Not a happy place and there are money worries. The poor dears.