New Governments in Queensland: Industrial Relations, 1957-1961, 1989-1990

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Weller, Pat
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Walter, Jim
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This thesis sets out to examine the capacity of new governments to influence partisan-based policy and legislation. It examines two newly elected Queensland governments - the Nicklin Country-Liberal government in 1957- 1961 and the Goss Labor government in 1989- 1990 and analyses the introduction by those governments of major industrial relations legislative reform. The Nicklin Coalition government was elected to the Queensland parliament in 1957 after the collapse of the Gair Labor government. The Coalition was committed to extensive industrial relations legislative reform but had not prepared for, or anticipated the constitutional, administrative and legal problems associated with such reform. Nor had it taken into account the concessions that would need to be made to the state's trade unions in order to effect its reforms. Consequently it was not until 1961 that it found the time was propitious for the introduction of its major legislative reforms and the restructuring of the state's principal industrial relations legislation. By contrast, in 1989 the Goss government elected as a consequence of the National Party's collapse in the face of the Fitzgerald Inquiry of 1987 had prepared itself for government. As a result it was able to take advantage of its newly elected status and the existence of the Hanger Report (1988) to introduce its legislative intentions quickly, in such a way that it did not alienate the business community. Preparation and circumstances therefore allowed Labor to repeal earlier legislation supported by business and introduce its own changes with little or no opposition. The thesis concludes that their political and economic inheritance and the existing policy environment will in varying degrees limit new governments. But their ability to introduce partisan-based legislative change quickly is also determined by the degree of preparation for the process of government, undertaken prior to their election. This thesis demonstrates that new governments can make a difference and effect changes to the industrial relations environment. However if this potential is to be realised and new governments are to take advantage of their newly elected status it will require a significant degree of administrative preparation or a considerable period of acclimatisation to the rigours of office.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Humanities
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Industrial relations
Queensland government
Nicklin Coalition government
Gair Labor government
Goss government
Fitzgerald Inquiry
Hanger Report
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