Media Release

The Coalition's Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws

The Hon. Tony Abbott MHR, Leader of the Opposition
Senator The Hon. Eric Abetz, Shadow Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations

*Click here to download and read the Coalition’s Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws

The Coalition’s Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws will improve the prospects of higher real wages for Australian workers, lift standards of behaviour in trade unions, make it easier for small business to employ people and lift Australia’s productive capacity.

Our policy is part of the Coalition’s Real Solutions Plan to create one million more jobs, lift real wages and have more competitive Australian businesses.

All Australians want harmonious, productive and smart workplaces where effort is rewarded, loyalty is encouraged and where businesses and their employees share in the success of the enterprise.

We want to see the take home wages of Australian workers increase, just like they did under the last Coalition government. From 1997 to 2007, average real wages grew by 21.5 per cent.

Under our policy, no Australian worker will be worse off and businesses will be encouraged to grow.

The priority of our Real Solutions Plan is to build a stronger, more productive and diverse economy that delivers more jobs, higher wages and better services for all Australians. That is why we can say with certainty: No Australian worker or business will go backwards because of this policy.

This policy will, however, make life more difficult for militant building unions and dishonest union officials who continue to abuse their position. We make no apology for that. Australians have seen enough from the excesses of the Health Services Union and allegations surrounding the AWU to know something is very wrong with the standards and culture of some important national unions. We know that those who profit from such abuses will fight against these common sense changes.

The Coalition’s Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws will:

· Keep and improve the Fair Work laws – including the independent umpire

· Re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission

· Provide better protection for members of Registered Organisations

· Provide practical help to small business workplaces

· Guarantee workers the right to access fair flexibility

· Create realistic timeframes for Greenfield agreements

· Ensure union right of entry provisions are sensible and fair

· Promote harmonious, sensible and productive enterprise bargaining

· Ensure the laws work for everyone and an independent review by the respected Productivity Commission will be undertaken

· Deliver a genuine paid parental leave scheme and lift female participation rates in Australian workplaces

· Ensure workplace bullying is comprehensively addressed

· Urgently review the Remuneration Tribunal for the trucking industry

· Implement many recommendations from the Fair Work Review Panel report

· Give underpaid workers a better deal.

Our policy will not re-introduce Australian Workplace Agreements, nor will it weaken safety nets or cause any Australian worker to go backwards. There won’t be another WorkChoices – it is dead, buried and cremated. The past is the past and we will not go back to it.

Our policy seeks to improve the current Fair Work laws by providing common sense solutions to practical problems such as ensuring right of entry provisions are sensible and not abused, providing practical help to small businesses within the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman and tackling lawlessness on building sites and construction projects by re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

These sensible and common sense measures will address the flexibility, militancy and productivity problems that exist within the operation of the current system. Our changes are about helping our workplace relations system work better.

Unlike Labor, who say one thing before an election and do another thing after it, we will keep our word. We will not deliver less than our policy and we will go no further. If elected, these are the only changes that an incoming government will make in a first term.

The centrepiece of our economic agenda is to create one million new jobs within five years and two million jobs within ten years. We will achieve this aim through dynamic, harmonious and productive workplaces where employers and employees share the benefits of growth.

It is through our commitment to deliver stronger workplaces, lower taxes and more efficient government that the next Coalition government will deliver a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia.