Could Work Choices make a comeback?

by Cameron Edmond03 Sep 2013

New details and questions regarding the Coalition’s proposed IR and workplace policies have surfaced, with some believing they indicate a return to “Work Choices under another name”.

Eric Abetz, Opposition workplace relations spokesman, recently elaborated on the Coalition’s workplace policy, stating a plan to reduce unions’ ability to secure large pay rises without appropriate discussion.

This proposal would require changes to The Fair Work Act, and would mean unions would need to demonstrate to the Fair Work Commission that a genuine discussion with employers about productivity had occurred and been approved, The Australian reported.

"When productivity is one of the considerations, it will force employers before they sign off in a moment of weakness on an excessive agreement to say, 'Sorry, we can't sign off on this because we know it won't be approved'," Abetz said. "Unions will have to be able to show some productivity trade-off. I think it will keep trade unions and employers honest.”

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has previously stated that a return to The Howard Government’s Work Choices will never happen, with The Coalition’s aim to create equal footing for employers and unions.

However, Ann Sudmalis, Liberal candidate for Gilmore, told an election forum she was unable to answer whether Work Choices would return under a Coalition Government until after the election.

"Any workplace relations legislation is on the table after the election, not before, so sorry I can't answer your question,” she said. "It is exactly as it is right now, right through to the election, and it will be reviewed after the election. That has been made perfectly clear to everybody."

The question was posed by Annette Aldrick, Shoalhaven secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association.

“I’m really surprised actually at how angry she got,” Aldrick told The ABC. "Surely it's something that needs to be put out to the public before the election so that people can make an informed choice now … maybe the fact that she was so defensive shows that perhaps they are thinking about Work Choices under another name."

To review elements of all three major party’s policies, click here.

What do you think of this issue? Could The Coalition be planning to introduce a Work Choices proxy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


  • by GWH Lohrey 3/09/2013 2:50:04 PM

    Highly likely.

  • by Nicole 3/09/2013 3:05:56 PM

    I think this article is inappropriate and HC should be more apolitical or report on the facts of both parties policies.

  • by Cameron 3/09/2013 3:17:13 PM

    Hi Nicole, thank you for your feedback. As a journalist, I agree that to push one's political position in their stories is poor practice. The media - even niche publications such as ours - has a responsibility to avoid the "non-reporting" that can lead to misinformed and confused voters. Our readers trust us to report on facts so they can make informed decisions, and I work everyday to ensure I honour that to the best of my abilities.

    As such, in my reporting on this election I had tried to maintain as neutral as possible. I am in no way stating that Work Choices will return, I am simply reporting on a number of comments made surrounding it. Whether or not I agree with these comments is not something I will disclose as a professional journalist, I simply feel that the conversation surrounding such a pivotal element of workplace and IR policy in Australia should be reported to the readers of HC.

    I also demonstrated in the article that Mr Abbott has indicated Work Choices will not return - a statement that is important to keep in mind whenever approaching this topic.

    Additionally, HC has outlined major stances from all three parties. See the link within the article for more information.

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