Stakeholders and the state in the initial phases of the Workchoices industrial relations reforms
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Australia is in the midst of far-reaching industrial relations reforms, which overturn a century of centralised conciliation and arbitration and traditions of a level playing field for players in the industrial relations arena. While the content of the legislation is perplexing, the process of its introduction is equally so. This paper focuses on the seven-month period from the federal election in October 2004 until 26th May 2005, when John Howard finally made a formal policy statement to Parliament on the next wave of industrial relations reform. First, the paper draws on some theories to examine policy processes, pressure groups and state intervention in industrial relations. Then it reviews the informal hints and announcements from Howard Government representatives and the resultant lobbying by interested parties. Information is drawn from a range of primary sources, including public announcements, media reports, and an independent industrial relations news service (Workplace Express). It concludes that the Howard Government had a set agenda of reform, and its direction did not appear to be altered in any manner amidst criticism from opponents (such as unions and opposition political parties) and occasionally from supporters, in the period up until the formal policy announcement.
Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Employment Relations Association Conference, Hong Kong, June 2006
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