Govt prepared to ‘look at’ Fair Work changes

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Govt prepared to ‘look at’ Fair Work changes

The Federal Treasurer and the IR Minister have both indicated they are prepared to look at changes to the Fair Work Act — but a return to AWAs seems unlikely.

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The Federal Treasurer and the IR Minister have both indicated they are prepared to look at changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 — but a return to Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) seems unlikely.
 
In separate interviews, Wayne Swan and Chris Evans have said they are prepared to listen to calls for change based on ‘evidence’.

Major employer organisations have recently sharpened the debate over the workplace relations system, claiming urgent reforms are necessary.

When Swan was asked whether the Government would contemplate a return to individual contracts with a no-disadvantage test, he said the Fair Work Act had been put in place in consultation with industry.

‘From time to time there’ll be some people in the industry who will say to me or to other Ministers that they’d like to revisit sections of the Act,’ he said.

No panacea
 
‘We will deal with that in the way in which any responsible government deals with it. We’ve got a review of the Fair Work Act happening now, but we are not in the business of going back to some WorkChoices style arrangement where people’s basic wages and working conditions are ripped away.’

‘I don’t see [individual contracts] as being as being a panacea for productivity if that’s the point that they are making.’
 
‘I don’t happen to agree that that is a panacea for productivity. Some of them do. I respect their view. I just respectfully disagree.’

IR Minister Evans said Swan had echoed what he has been saying for the last couple of months.

Evidence
 
‘We are prepared to entertain a discussion with interested parties about the evidence base of what is been occurring under the Fair Work Act,’ he said.

‘What we do know about that evidence so far is that industrial disputation continues to fall, the number of agreements continues to increase and that overall wages growth is being contained. That’s the evidence.’

‘What we have had is a whole range of claims being made on both sides about what is happening under the Fair Work Act.’

‘We are prepared to sit down as part of the planned review at the end of this year, talk to people about the evidence and about any changes that might be justified, based on the evidence.’

Wild claims
 
‘But as I say, if you look at the indicators we are dealing with at the moment, the evidence is that the Fair Work Act is working and we will be proceeding to discuss with the major parties their views based on the evidence, not based on some quite wild claims that have been made by some people.’

Opposition IR spokesman Eric Abetz said he welcomed Swan ‘conceding there are problems with Labor’s Fair Work laws’.
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