IR after the election - public sector; industrial umpire

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IR after the election - public sector; industrial umpire

Kevin Rudd will purge senior public servants in a bloodbath if he becomes Prime Minister, Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, claimed yesterday. Meanwhile to reduce the likelihood of bias, appointments to the Fair Work Australia industrial umpire panel would be done after consultation with the Opposition, Labor's IR spokeswoman Julia Gillard said this week.

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Kevin Rudd will purge senior public servants in a bloodbath if he becomes Prime Minister, Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, claimed yesterday. Meanwhile to reduce the likelihood of bias, appointments to the Fair Work Australia industrial umpire panel would be done after consultation with the Opposition, Labor's IR spokeswoman Julia Gillard said this week.

'Calculating, ruthless' Rudd will purge PS, claims Hockey

Kevin Rudd will purge senior public servants in a bloodbath if he becomes Prime Minister, Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, claimed yesterday.

And he bases this claim on what then Premier Wayne Goss did in Queensland in the 1990s.

Hockey said Rudd's claims that a Rudd Government would be 'kind and gentle' towards public servants are farcical.

'Kevin Rudd told The Australian that he would not sack any public servants who would continue to provide "frank and fearless" advice to their new Labor masters,' he said. 'The rank hypocrisy of Rudd's new-found love of bureaucrats beggars belief.

'Consider Rudd's previous job as Premier Wayne Goss' Chief of Staff. In the first month after Labor was elected to power, 18 Department heads were removed and nine Departments were abolished.

'Gulag'

'Shortly afterwards, Queensland public servants became aware of the "gulag" - a room where unwanted public servants were sent to contemplate retirement or resignation. These senior public servants had fallen foul of Rudd and were swiftly exiled with nothing to do - except collect their salary.'

Hockey said Rudd's 'calculating personality and ruthless approach to the attainment and holding of political power' would mean that he is much more likely, in practice, to inflict the Queensland experience on Canberra bureaucrats.

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Labor's plan to end bias in selecting IR umpires

To reduce the likelihood of bias, appointments to the Fair Work Australia industrial umpire panel would be done after consultation with the Opposition, Labor's IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, said this week.

Addressing an industrial disputes conference in Melbourne, Gillard spelled out how members of the panel would be selected.

The shortlist of candidates will be scrutinised by a panel comprising:

  • A senior official from the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations (who will chair the panel)
  • A senior official from the Australian Public Service Commission, and
  • A senior official from each State (and Territory) Department of Industrial Relations that wishes to participate

Upon receipt of the short listed candidates, and prior to making any decision about appointments to recommend to Cabinet, the Minister will also be required to consult with:

  • The opposition spokesperson for industrial relations, and
  • The Head of Fair Work Australia

While saying that the Howard Government had 'revelled' in making biased appointments to the current Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC), Gillard admitted that in the past 'Labor wasn't immune from temptation'.

'Since the election of the Howard Government, there have been 20 appointments to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission,' Gillard said. 'Our estimate is that one has been a woman, two are from a union background, and 14 have had an employment background with employer organisations.

Made on merit

'In contrast, Labor's process will be rigorous and provide for bipartisan involvement.  It will ensure that all appointments made to Fair Work Australia are themselves fair, balanced and made on merit alone. The Government has refused to match this commitment.'

Giudice first head

Gillard said the AIRC would be abolished to make way for Fair Work Australia, however the current AIRC Head, Justice Geoffrey Giudice, would be asked to become the first Head of Fair Work Australia.

During the transition period the AIRC will conduct the process of award modernisation that would take place under a Labor Government.

Gillard said Fair Work Australia would be much more accessible than the AIRC. Rather than being 'rooted to big office towers' in the CBDs, it would also be located in suburban and regional areas.

It would also be able to visit workplaces where requested by the parties so that small employers do not have to take a day away from their businesses.

Related

Labor to set up a 'one-stop IR shop'

 

 

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