Federal Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans has said he will not speculate on whether the upcoming independent review of the Fair Work Act could lead to the return of compulsory arbitration.
The review of the federal labour laws will begin early next year, and many employers have voiced concerns that a return to compulsory arbitration would ‘wind back the clock’.
“There's a lot of rhetoric in this field, a lot of ideology, a lot of false claims,” Senator Evans told ABC Radio. Despite intense questioning, Evans would not speculate on the review's findings other than to say it would be independent and evidence-based.
The minister also wouldn’t say how much change would likely come from the review, instead reassuring that the government was committed to upholding the principles of the Fair Work laws.
In light of the recent spate of prominent industrial disputes, the ALP national conference last weekend voted in favour of changing the party's policy platform to include a requirement for enterprise agreements to provide for last-resort arbitration.
Evans said the recent Qantas scandal had put attention on the use of arbitration, and added “People are rightly focused on whether a dispute has to get to the stage of a lockout of employees before arbitration is required.”
Evans added “It's something the Fair Work review ought to look at.”
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