It’s beyond argument that the two major parties in the 2019 Federal Election have starkly contrasting policies on a number of fundamental points: tax, wage levels, energy, climate change, etc.

What has been frustrating to the author of this blog is my relative inability to find out the detail of the Industrial Relations policies of both parties. Having said that, I’ll give it a go!

Coalition IR Policy

  • Essentially status quo
  • Fair Work Commission retains its current role
  • The Australian Building & Construction Commission (ABCC) retains its role as policeman of the construction industry
  • The registered Organisations Commission (ROC) retains its role as policeman of unions in terms of governance, finances etc.
  • Review and then possibly introduce “enterprise contracts” for individual employees to overcome the limitations of Award rates and conditions

Labor IR Policy

  • Allow casuals to elect to go permanent after 12 months continuous service. FWC to accrue the right to compulsorily arbitrate any dispute in this area.
  • Abolish the ABCC
  • Abolish the ROC
  • Give childcare workers a 20% wage hike
  • Allow awards to be varied but an absolute bar against take home pay reductions
  • FWC to get an expansion of its powers of compulsory arbitration
  • Industry bargaining rights for low paid wage sectors

It looks to me that most Australians have a rough sense of where the two major parties stand on Industrial Relations but the specifics are much less understood. If the government pulls off a miracle come-from-behind win then I honestly cannot see them doing anything in the IR space. The whole Work Choices history has scared them off doing anything of major substance in that area.

If Labor wins then I think the changes will be more profound and will get through the Senate unless Clive Palmer’s UAP holds the balance of power. If the UAP is the gatekeeper in the Senate then Labor will have to water their proposals down in order to get things done. However a fair and objective analysis would have to conclude that Labor’s IR policy (to the extent that we can find out the details) does promise substantial change of a scale not seen since the 2006 Work Choices revolution which did prove short lived but was a genuine revolution none the less. Labor’s promised IR changes aren’t a revolution but they are still major changes.

If more details emerge prior to 18 May 2019 then I will put out another blog covering them.