Will Opposition stumble again on work laws?
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
The Federal Opposition will need to tread carefully with any proposed changes to Fair Work laws if it is to have a chance of succeeding at the next election, according to one of Australia's foremost industrial law experts.
Professor Andrew Stewart, from the University of Adelaide's Law School, says Opposition leader Tony Abbott will be gambling with victory if he makes further workplace reform a key part of the Opposition's election strategy.
Professor Stewart says: "Australians thoroughly rejected the Howard Government's 'Work Choices' legislation at the last election, so you would be forgiven for assuming that Mr Abbott would leave industrial relations well enough alone.
"However, Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop and Eric Abetz have all given signals that they would like to pick up the torch of labour market 'deregulation', under some rebadged version of Work Choices.
"At the same time, there are contradictory messages coming out of the Opposition on what it wants to achieve. For example, how does it propose to relieve business of the 'burden' of penalty rates or unfair dismissal claims, without disadvantaging workers?"
Professor Stewart aims to demystify the issue of workplace regulation in a free public seminar tonight, Tuesday 9 March, as part of the University's ongoing Research Tuesdays series.
Besides talking about the challenges Tony Abbott faces in crafting a credible workplace policy, he will explain what really has and hasn't changed under the new Fair Work Act.
He will highlight the way in which the rights of individual workers have been strengthened, while at the same time a Labor government has retained some of the toughest restrictions on the union movement in the developed world.
"These issues - and the impact on both workers and employers - will all be discussed," Professor Stewart says.
Andrew Stewart is also President of the Australian Labour Law Association, consults to national legal firm Piper Alderman and provided technical assistance to the Federal Government on its Fair Work legislation.
WHAT: Research Tuesdays: "Who's the Boss? An exploration of the ongoing tug-of-war between fairness and flexibility in the Australian workplace" by Professor Andrew Stewart
WHERE: Law Lecture Theatre 2 (Room 333), Ligertwood Building, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide
WHEN: 5.30pm Tuesday 9 March
COST: Free. Please book by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: (08) 8303 3692
John Bray Professor of Law
The University of Adelaide
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