Pathetic: get on with it

Admits to delay: Eric Abetz.

 

This government needs to get on with correcting some of the most egregious wrongs when it comes to industrial relations.  There is no need for a review by the Productivity Commission to:

  • introduce an appellate body to oversee the out-of-control Fair Work Commission;
  • reintroduce the ABCC;
  • ensure that individual flexibility agreements operate as intended;
  • redraft the greenfields provisions to stamp out union extortion;
  • Review remuneration tribunal for trucking industry (a major union rort with big business on the hook);
  • clamp down on ridiculous right of entry provisions.

These were all commitments taken to the election.  Get on with it: there should be no delay.

But here comes to news from Fairfax that the government is delaying the PC review as well.  Note the howler about Fairfax have an exclusive on the draft terms of reference: I have a copy sitting on my desk – some exclusive.

Here is the piece:

The Abbott government has put an ambitious review of workplace laws on the back burner as it spends political capital on selling an unpopular budget amid fears of a ferocious political campaign from Labor and the union movement expected to revive the spectre of WorkChoices.

The terms of reference for the Productivity Commission’s review of the Fair Work Act, the centrepiece of the government’s industrial relations policy at the last election, have been all but finalised.

The Prime Minister’s office has intervened to delay the review as it focuses on steering the budget through an unco-operative Senate.

And, earlier this month, Employment Minister Eric Abetz told a Senate hearing the review should be released ”shortly”, but admitted ”I think I may have said that at the last estimates [in February]”.

Senior government sources have confirmed the government is not ready to launch a new political debate over industrial relations.

“We know it’s coming, it would be really good for it to be in the public arena”: Kate Carnell.

Business groups and Liberal MPs are urging a bold industrial relations policy platform before the next election, though senior Coalition insiders believe there is no rush.

With one eye on the 2016 election, the government’s political strategists have now pencilled in late 2015 or early 2016 as the time for the Productivity Commission to report back on the review, which would allow time to cherry-pick the most politically palatable recommendations and take them to the voters.

The final terms of reference for the review are expected to be only slightly different to the draft, a copy of which was obtained exclusively by Fairfax Media in March. It revealed the review will examine workers’ pay and conditions, including penalty rates and union militancy, and also consider workplace flexibility.

The inquiry will examine the Fair Work act’s impact on unemployment, productivity, business investment and the ability of the labour market to respond to economic conditions.

The launching of the trade union royal commission and the government’s desire to pass other workplace law changes, such as restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission, have also contributed to the delay.

Industry groups are increasingly agitated about the delay, with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry telling Fairfax it was time to get it under way.

Chief executive Kate Carnell said the industry body had seen the leaked terms of reference and was eager for the review to begin.

”It would be really good for it to be in the public arena so we can put together the best submission possible,” she said. ”We keep being told ‘next week’.”

Labor Party employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the Prime Minister was holding back the review because ”he knows this review means workers will lose, and in the wake of the most unfair budget in living memory, he can’t stomach more broken promises”.

ACTU national secretary Dave Oliver said the government had delayed the review because it knew ”the Australian people will reject their toxic views on IR, whenever they eventually decide to be honest about it”.

Senator Abetz’s office refused to comment.

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8 Responses to Pathetic: get on with it

  1. Roger

    Politics is the art of the possible, Judith. As the piece indicates, the government has wasted a lot of political capital with its inept budget and selling process. I suspect their polling is telling them if they proceed with the listed reforms they’ll be in opposition come the next election and any reforms they introduced in the meantime would be wound back by a Labor government with a significant majority. What’s the point in that? In the meantime Abbott seriously needs to consider a re-shuffle before the next budget to get Hockey out of Treasury as he’s largely responsible for the government’s present woes.

  2. .

    Roger

    The government really isn’t doing much. I agree they’re dragging their feet. Claiming pragmatism all of the time will eventually wear thin.

    I am hoping they are waiting for the new Senate. I will give them a pass until then. I gave Hockey a chance to fail before I judged him.

  3. C.L.

    Politics is the art of the possible, Judith.

    The next person who says in defence of Abbott should be shot.

    Judith is right.

    Newman in Queensland has also embarked on a ludicrous, operatic consultation process, his regarding budget rationalisation.

    Just f-ing get on with it.

  4. .

    Newman in Queensland has also embarked on a ludicrous, operatic consultation process, his regarding budget rationalisation.

    Then he bans fishing at a jetty!

    Liberalism! Freedom!

  5. entropy

    Actually Newman, in a direct opposite of Abbott, is laying the ground work for unpopular decisions to be supported. The consultation process is forcing people to think through the alternatives, which makes it harder for Palaszczuk to get away with what Shorten is currently getting away with.

  6. Vicki

    The launching of the trade union royal commission and the government’s desire to pass other workplace law changes, such as restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission, have also contributed to the delay.

    Surely the unfolding of the Royal Commission has more than “contributed to the delay” as the Fairfax piece suggests.

    The RC is much more than theatre. It has, and will, provide enough fodder for a thorough deconstruction by Commissioner John Dyson Heydon of the union movement. The Abbott government will not move on the Fair Work Commission’s functions, or even reintroduce the ABCC, until this is done.

  7. Vicki

    Further to the above – when I say “deconstruction of the union movement” – I mean in terms of analysis of the governance – or lack of it – of the unions. This will provide the practical, rational, and even moral basis for reform.

    I believe the RC will be of greater importance for the government than even the results of the Productivity Commission’s report.

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