Off to the Sydney Institute in their new premises, high in the air in the Governor Phillip Tower in the city to hear Martin Ferguson launch a new round of reform in industrial relations. Perhaps.
Tomorrow his talk will be on the list of podcasts with commentary by Jennifer Hewitt followed by Q and A. On the weekend it will be on TV, details to be provided.
Martin Ferguson has a long history in the trade union movement followed by a spell as Minister for Minerals and Energy and also Tourism in the Rudd administration. He goes back to the time of more or less open warfare between unions and management before the Hawke/Keating government reforms.
The two rogue unions (CFMEU and Wharfies) and the Shadow for Industrial Relations are threatening to have a repeat under an incoming Labor Government.
He has been working with the Minerals Council of Australia to prepare a blueprint for essential reform of the system. His message is very clear – we are living beyond our means in a competitive world with rapid changes in the workplace and we will reform or perish. Not quite his words but there it is.
Everything depends on productivity. It is like real estate except the three most important things are productivity instead of location.
This is the document that he launched. Australia’s workplace relations framework: The case for reform.
The priority reforms are:
Removing the availability of protected industrial action over business decisions and ensuring enterprise agreements deal with direct employment matters.
Refocusing the Act’s ‘adverse action’ provisions so they do not act as unreasonable barriers to business decision-making and performance management processes.
Introducing more balanced workplace right of entry rules.
Reforming greenfields agreements, including introducing ‘life of project’ agreements, so the workplace relations system helps get major new projects off the ground.
Letting employees above a high-income threshold choose between being covered by enterprise agreements or individual employment agreements.
He is looking for political leadership to make the case for reforms to deliver productivity, flexibility, employment and improved wages, while maintaining a safety net for the most vulnerable workers.
You would have to think that the current administration is the least likely in living memory to do what needs to be done. Truly interesting times.
On the topic of podcasts, you could do worse than have a look at the talk last week about “Red Ted” Theodore and Joe Lyons the PM from Tasmania in the 1930s.