Tags: bill enquiry

27 Nov 2005, Comments Off on I R not impressed

I R not impressed

Author: Helen

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As the rough IR beast slouches toward Canberra to be born, its supporters fall over themselves to find the most stupid historical reference or metaphor.

Here’s Peter Hendy of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It is a significant historic step, moving us form a horse and buggy 19th Century model of industrial relations, finally to a 21st Century model,” he said.

If only he’d paid attention to ‘Enry ‘Iggins,


a founding father of the constitution, a High Court judge and president of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The dereglated industrial relations environment of the 19th century, which he described as “rude and barbarous”, was replaced by a “new province for law and order”, the system of conciliation and arbitration.

…This legislation is the antithesis of the “law and order” that H.B. Higgins was addressing. Rather than introducing a new philosophy for the 21st century it is largely an attempt to return to the legal environment of the 19th century. As such, it is a recipe for the sort of uncivilised community that an independent compulsory conciliation and arbitration system, based on fairness to human beings, was designed to avoid.

In other words, it’s the exact opposite of the Chamber of Commerce spin.

Then there’s “one backbencher”, not named, who “likens the public’s fears about IR to the Y2K anxiety: “The public will hold their breath, wake up ó and find nothing’s changed.””

How many ways is the Y2K problem not like the IR reforms? Let’s just say that any programs or embedded automated systems which weren’t Y2K compatible, so the theory went, would either work or not work on January 1, 2000. You are not going to get out of bed on the day the IR reforms take effect and find everything has suddenly changed. It’s going to be a much longer process of attrition, especially for people already in jobs.

Judith Troeth is the chairperson of the Senate IR bill “enquiry”, as the Michelle Grattan article I linked to quaintly describes it. Here’s her “enquiry”:

“This is the height of hysteria Ö In 12 months’ time people will be wondering what the fuss was about because most people will simply keep what they’ve got.”

Come the next election, I hope, Troeth will be the first casualty.