Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Australian Labor Government ceases pay rates review

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According to the SMH (http://smallbusiness.smh.com.au/managing/legal/afpc-ceases-pay-rates-review-902643447.html) the new Labor government has requested that the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) should cease to review junior wages and overall pay scales, thus dropping the previous Liberal governments initiative. The Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard terminated the review “pending establishment of the new industrial umpire, Fair Work Australia, in 2010”.
I cant help thinking there is a lot of political deception in this decision. Is it possible that the incoming government is worried about:
1. The possibility that ‘real inflation’ might be raised, given the increase in prices
2. It wants to avoid the need to address any disparity in youth wages
Would it not be better to complete a review already committed to, and might any findings be used as a basis for its policy. Why do young workers have to wait until 2010 for a resolution – that means any policy intiative will come after the next election. How convenient!
Gillard said that “awards would be modernised and simplified by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) from early 2008”. The government argues that “the AFPC's review of pay scales and junior and training wages will both overlap with and duplicate the [AIRC] award modernisation process”. So why not fold the role of the ARPC into the AIRC. Its politics. I suggest the reason is that the previous committee was stacked full of Liberal MPs, which only highlights the reality that, parliamentary committees are not object fact-finding processes. On the contrary, having submitted a number of submissions to such committees, its evident that such proceedings mean very little. Its all about political clout. So where is the objectivity in parliament if not in the parliamentary committees, which get very little public scrutiny. Well there isn’t any.
Gillard suggested that ”the various reviews being conducted by the previous Liberal government was a piecemeal approach”. But having been in government for 11 years, might a little tinkering be all that is required? So what is Labor going to do? Apparently “modernising and simplify more than 4,300 awards”. Well perhaps its warranted, but that strikes me as tinkering, not a profound policy shift. Hence my belief that Labor is just deferring action. Trying to be uncontroversial. Might they have a confidence problem? Do they have any substantive policy. Secretly I think they are very happy with what the Liberals have given them. Interestingly, I would suggest the Liberals lost the election at precisely the right time. Labour will oversee the ‘period of pain’.
- Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com
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