Workplace Relations reforms

6 December 2007

Steve O'Neill and Indra Kuruppu
Economics Section

The Coalition Government introduced the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005 on 2 November 2005 (see Bills Digest No.66 2005-06, see also the Parliamentary Library s Internet guide to the Work Choices Bill, including proposed amendments from non-government parties).

The Senate accepted 337 government amendments to the 685 page bill on 2 December 2005. The Bill was then returned to the House of Representatives which passed the Bill on 7 December 2005. The Bill was given Royal Assent on 14 December 2005, and it came into effect amending the Workplace Relations Act (WR Act) in respect of all of its schedules from 27 March 2006.

The chronology outlined in the table below dates developments in the policy leading to the Work Choices legislation up to and from the federal election of 9 October 2004 and subsequent developments.

Key Links

Prime Minister Howard s ministerial statement to the House of Representatives outlining the Government s plan to modernise the workplace relations system (26 May 2005) can be found at:

The Work Choices legislation including the amended Workplace Relations Act, the Workplace Relations Regulations and subsequent amendments can be found at:




Source Documents

28 September 2004

Liberal/National Coalition releases its workplace relations policy for the October election. Exempting small business of 100 employees from dismissal is not included, nor replacement of the award-based no disadvantage test . The policy includes independent contractors and labour hire proposals and federal-state harmonisation.

Flexibility and productivity in the workplace- the key to jobs

9 October 2004

Prime Minister John Howard s Government re-elected for a fourth term in Federal election.


11 October 2004

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) outlines the case for a national IR system (see also policy: Modern Workplace: Modern Future)

PM urged to go hard on reform newspaper article

28 October 2004

Outcome of elections for the Senate clarifies that the Coalition will have 39 senators out of 76.


31 October 2004

WA Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke foreshadowed possible High Court challenge to a federal IR takeover based on corporations power noting that use of the power for IR was not part of State referrals/agreements in 1991/2001.

Address to WA IR Society, Workplace Express

9 November 2004

The International Monetary Fund advocates wind back of the award system s role in prescribing the minimum wage and to reduce overlap between state and federal award systems. Supports boosting labour force participation of mature workers; advocates curbing spending on the disability support pension and boost work incentives.

IMF staff report

9 November 2004

A group of 20 prominent businessmen wrote to the PM proposing that contract principles be extended to employment contracts more generally in order to give labour market participants greater freedom of choice; legislating to give employees freedom to choose their terms and conditions of employment (should the Parliament decide to go down this path) and avoid tribunal or court interpretations that ran counter to such changes; removing the legal privileges enjoyed by unions; assess macro and micro economic consequences of major IR change, with a particular emphasis on the connection between the welfare system and the labour market - especially when welfare benefits act as a deterrent to job seeking ; consider the implications of Australia s past ratification of ILO conventions on Parliament s sovereignty over labour market laws

Letter to PM John Howard, November 9, 2004

16 November 2004

In opening speech to the 41st Parliament the Governor-General states in its fourth term the government will accelerate the reform of workplace relations as a means of rasing productivity and Australian living standards. A strategic package of measures will be pursued in this Parliament to promote that objective .

House of Representatives. Debates. 16 November 2004. Governor-General s speech

14 December 2004

PM replies to businessmen rejecting their call for a commission of inquiry into IR but confirms examination to achieve greater harmony among the six overlapping workplace relations systems. This will include considering the use of the Commonwealth s constitutional powers, including the corporations power.

Letter from PM John Howard

25 January 2005

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Workplace Relations and Workforce Participation, is asked by Minister Andrews to outline the state of play in independent contracting, Cwth v State laws and the role of labour hire in the economy.

Terms of reference

3 February 2005

OECD urges the Howard Government to reduce the number and scope of allowable award matters and cut the level of minimum wages. Australia s minimum wage which according to the OECD sits at 58% of median earnings is the second highest in the developed world. This is arguably too high, as it constrains job opportunities for the low-skilled.

OECD Economic Survey of Australia, February 2005

9 February 2005

Premier Beattie in an address to the AWU s national conference said that State Cabinet had resolved it would go to the High Court in a constitutional challenge if the Howard Government proceeds with plans to take over the State s IR system. About 60% of Queensland s workers are covered by the State IR system.

Premier Beattie's speech

11 February 2005

The Victorian Trades Hall Council resolved to pursue a strategy to deal with the incoming IR legislation and to also call on the State Government to take back the IR power it handed the Commonwealth in 1996 if awards are stripped right back.

National strike on the cards

14 February 2005

Treasurer Peter Costello argues that there is now the once in a generation opportunity to enhance individual contracts, to cut down on arbitral matters, to try and get wages linked to productivity improvements and enhance profitability, to get ease of entry, ease of exit, into employment situations, to give flexibility in relation to hours, and to improve opportunities for part-time work.

Channel 7 s Sunrise

15 February 2005

Business Council of Australia advocates slashing allowable award matters from the current 20 allowable matters to six, proposes benchmarking the no disadvantage test against the proposed six allowable matters and simplifying AWA approval processes and extending their maximum terms from three to five years.

Workplace Relations Action Plan for Future Prosperity

18 February 2005

The Master Builders Association wants the Federal Government to soften the Building and Construction Industry legislation s tough anti-pattern bargaining provisions. It argues that the key issue is whether parties genuinely agree to the deals struck. It also wants the legislation s provisions on award simplification, union right of entry, and registered organisation s responsibilities taken out, maintaining the Government s existing bills on the same matters are adequate for the construction sector.

MBA submission

22 February 2005

Cabinet considered Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews broad outline of his IR agenda.


25 February 2005

Kevin Andrews outlines the broad scheme of the Government s IR reforms in a speech to CEDA. State IR Ministers hold a special meeting in Sydney to discuss the looming federal IR changes.

Where do we want workplace relations to be in five years time?

3 March 2005

CPSU-SPSF will seek to persuade the states to bring 300,000 employees of state-owned corporations back into direct Crown employment and remove them from the reach of likely changes to the WR Act based on the corporations power.

Union seeks protection from IR plan

7 March 2005

The Australian Industry Group proposed that the Government reduce 2200 federal awards to 20 industry-based instruments; introduce a Minimum Wage Commission similar to the UK s model and define state and federal responsibilities for setting minimum conditions. Cabinet met to consider again proposals for change.

Making the Australian Economy Work Better Workplace Relations

9 March 2005

Kevin Andrews re-introduced the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill previously introduced to Parliament in 2003 (not passed by the Senate). The new Bill only contains the former Bill s enforcement provisions - it will later be amended to incorporate the full Cole legislative package, including the new Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill

11 March 2005

AMWU commences delegates meetings across Australia on Government IR proposals to seek a commitment from employers not to utilise the new legislation to undermine workers wages and conditions (including commitments not to introduce AWAs or restrict union access); and conducting campaigns, with the involvement of other unions and community groups, against the new laws.

Unions claim first win in IR war

15 March 2005

The ACTU launched the national campaign it had been foreshadowing to try to blunt the Federal Government s IR agenda.

Your Rights at Work

30 March 2005

The Government releases a discussion paper outlining the provisions it is considering including in contractors and labour hire legislation.

DEWR Discussion Paper

1 April 2005

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley criticises the Coalition for seeking to rely on the old reform agenda .

Mr Beazley s speech to Sustaining Prosperity Conference

11 April 2005

PM John Howard defends the Government s plans to establish a unitary IR system, after critics have labelled him too centralist.

Mr Howard s speech to Menzies Research Centre

11 April 2005

ACTU writes to the PM to confirm comments reportedly made to the effect that he wouldn t introduce measures that would cut employees real wages or make them worse off.

ACTU letter

11 April 2005

Professor Ron McCallum warned against moving the regulatory underpinnings from the Constitution s labour power to the corporations power. Professor McCallum argued that the dual system of IR regulation was not a significant barrier to productivity growth.

Kingsley Laffer Lecture, see also The Australian Constitution and the Shaping of our Federal and State Labour Laws

12 April 2005

The AIRC asks the Commonwealth to provide detail of its criticism of previous AIRC safety net wage decisions.

Transcript (at PN474)

15 April 2005

The Productivity Commission argued that there would be little pay-off or significant productivity improvements from nationally determined IR, which would be to the detriment of jurisdictional competition.

Review of National Competition Policy Reforms,

21 April 2005

WA s new Liberal leader, Matt Birney, said that he cannot and will not support the Federal Government s proposal to take over our state-based industrial relations systems . SA s opposition IR Minister, Iain Evans, supports a dual system. In Queensland, the National s IR spokesperson, Marc Rowell, has States-rights concerns.

State Libs say no to Howard's IR Statereform

28 April 2005

Workplace Relations Ministerial Council meeting, which was scheduled for April 28 is cancelled.


20 May 2005

The ETU Qld (Electrical Trades Union) commits to spending $1m on a campaign against the federal reforms. In NSW Unions NSW will be spending about $4 million on its campaign.

Union warns of award shocks

26 May 2005

Prime Minister makes a ministerial statement in the House of Representatives outlining the shape and content of proposed workplace relations reforms.

Workplace Relations Reform - House of Representatives, 26 May 2005

31 May 2005

DEWR officials advise the Senate Employment Committee that a Task Force of 50 staff including up to 10 from legal firms is preparing the new legislation.

Senate EWRE Committee

1 June 2005

Premier Beattie announced that he would amend the Qld State IR Act to protect conditions including long service leave, super, severance pay, notice of termination, dispute-settling procedures, weekend penalties, jury service and overtime and shift loadings against the federal proposals.

Queensland to shield workers from Howard s IR regime

3 June 2005

Council of Australian Governments meets; PM asks States to refer their IR powers; the States refuse (Victoria had already referred its IR powers under the Kennett Government)

Communiqu from the 3 June 2005 meeting

7 June 2005

AIRC hands down what is likely to be its last Safety Net Wage decision ($17pw, new minimum wage: $484.40) given that under the PM s statement, it is proposed to have the wage setting role of the AIRC replaced by the Australian Fair Pay Commission

AIRC Decision 7 June 2005

12 June 2005

The NSW ALP State conference resolved to resist the Howard Government s IR plans, by adopting a policy prohibiting companies holding contracts with NSW Government agencies from engaging workers under AWAs. The policy requires tenderers and contractors for Government work to offer collective agreements and meet ILO labour standards.

NSW ALP resolution

16 June 2005

AIRC President, Justice Giudice said at an IR Conference that the PM s workplace relations reform proposals were of enormous significance - politically, because of the debates that have commenced and would no doubt continue for some time at state and federal level; legally, because of the questions of constitutional law involved; economically, because of their potential to affect labour costs, employment and productivity levels; and socially, because of their potential to affect earned incomes and non-wage benefits.

Speech by AIRC President, Justice Geoffrey Giudice, to the ACT IR Society annual conference, Canberra, June 16, 2005

16 June 2005

Reserve Bank Governor Ian MacFarlane supported IR reform noting that it had allowed the economy to run faster without generating inflation.

Australian Institute of Company Directors Q&A Session

19 June 2005

The Treasury released a paper arguing that if labour protection provisions were removed entirely from the Australian labour market, then annual productivity growth would be 0.25% higher.

Comparing Australian and United States productivity

19 June 2005

ACTU launches an $ 8 million radio and television advertising campaign to challenge the federal government s proposed changes to industrial relations laws.

ACTU advertising campaign

21 June 2005

The ACTU s TV advertising campaign against the proposed changes to unfair dismissal laws, which depicted a mother being dismissed by her employer, drew criticism by Minister Andrews.

Response by Kevin Andrews; ACTU view

21 June 2005

17 academics drew up a report of the proposed IR reforms arguing that the reforms will remove employees rights at work, deliver one-way flexibility , do nothing to increase productivity, and disadvantage the most marginalised workers.

17 Academics report card

21 June 2005

Minister Andrews says he is considering changing the working week to 40 hours, instead of 38 hours, as standard in most awards at present.

Minister discusses proposed IR changes

22 June 2005

The Prime Minister says that his Government will not be proposing a 40-hour week.

Doorstop interview with the Prime Minister

24 June 2005

NSW Liberal leader John Brogden confirmed he would cede NSW s IR powers to Canberra if he won office arguing that the country could no longer sustain six separate and different IR systems.

Practical Federalism

26 June 2005

The Liberal Party s Federal Council supported motions calling for state IR systems not to be over-ridden by federal laws.

PM brushes off dissent

30 June 2005

Workplace stoppages occurred across the country with an estimated 100 000 assembling to protest the proposed IR changes in Melbourne. At the Melbourne rally, Kim Beazley committed the ALP to collective agreements and right of entry.

Beazley vows to keep industrial fires burning

5 July 2005

Opinion polls show a slump in popularity of the Government attributed to the successful ACTU campaign over the proposed IR reforms. Employers call for stalled legislation (ban on pattern bargaining and small business redundancy protection) to be brought on as soon as Parliament resumes.

ACNielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers

9 July 2005

Government commences $20 million advertising campaign in weekend newspapers to counter that of the ACTU. All agreements will be required by law to meet the new test set out by the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard, protecting four weeks annual leave, personal/carers leave, unpaid parental leave, a standard 38 hour week, with minimum wages to be set by the new Fair Pay Commission.

Newspaper advertisement

10 July 2005

Anglican Primate Dr Phillip Aspinall joined other church leaders (Catholic Archbishop George Pell) in expressing concerns about the Howard/Andrews IR proposals, especially a minimum wage falling in real value.

Aspinall joins the fight on IR laws

Pell warns Howard...

11 July 2005

PM Howard s address to Sydney Institute acknowledged that a radical overhaul of IR culture was his Government s objective, describing cultural change as the most important change that could be made to the labour market , and cited that a new breed of worker, the enterprise worker had arrived in the Australian labour market.

PM s speech to the Sydney Institute

15 July 2005

Qld Government commences campaign to counter the Federal Govt campaign


15 July 2005

Prime Minister announced a new taskforce communicating details of the Government s workplace reforms to the Australian community .

IR Task Force

18 July 2005

WA Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft supports proposed IR changes

WA Anglican leader backs workplace laws

22 July 2005

The ALP and ACTU propose to contest the use of Commonwealth funds to counter the ACTU advertising campaign, on the basis that there is no Budget allocation for it.

Union, Labor threat to challenge IR ads in court

27 July 2005

Australians are overwhelmingly opposed to the Federal Government s proposed exemption from unfair dismissal laws for companies with 100 employees or less, according to the latest Morgan Poll.

Australians overwhelmingly against changes - poll

29 July 2005

The High Court refuses to issue an injunction to stop the Government s advertising campaign.

High Court hearing decision

2 August 2005

The Victorian Government says it will protect award conditions for more than 250,000 State public sector workers from the Federal Government IR changes.

States set to unite against IR changes

2 August 2005

PM John Howard says current arrangements are going to continue in relation to meal-breaks for workers.

PM radio interview 2 Aug 2005

3 August 2005

The National Farmers Federation (NFF) warned it would not support changes that left its members worse off. Many family-owned farms may be excluded from the package unless they forgo tax benefits and become incorporated.

IR reform may isolate farmers

4 August 2005

PM John Howard says talks underway with the NFF to ensure farmers faced no disadvantage as a result of the introduction of these changes

States to join IR case-

4 August 2005

A leaked Federal Government s confidential brief to advertising agencies says the Government wants to run a reassuring campaign

IR ads to focus on lifestyle

5 August 2005

Workplace Relations Minister Andrews meets state counterparts in Melbourne, to try to convince them to surrender their industrial powers.

State and Territory Ministers reject the Federal Government s invitation.

Minister Andrews states that the reforms will not cut take-home pay and living standards.

Battle for IR clout taken to states

States throw out IR reforms

Minister Andrews' doorstop interview

5 August 2005

NSW survey by ACCIRT of 5000 people aged 12-25 shows that under the proposed IR changes young people could be easily exploited.

Young People and Work Survey 2005

5 August 2005

The Business Council of Australia releases a research report by Access Economics (Locking in or losing prosperity? 2005 and beyond) which claims that urgent political action is needed to halt the decline of productivity and economic competitiveness.

BCA Report - Locking in or Losing Prosperity

7 August 2005

PM John Howard says his government will not erode the minimum wage; and workers changing jobs will have the choice of taking a contract or staying in an award.

'Insiders' program

8 August 2005

Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen issues a statement, arguing that changes in workplace relations must not be taken lightly, as they will affect families.

Archbishop Jensen's statement

8 August 2005

The AIRC gives workers right to request variations to conditions, including taking an extra 12 months unpaid parental leave; returning to work part-time until a child reaches school age; extending carers leave to 10 days and extending simultaneous parental leave to a maximum of 8 weeks.

AIRC Decision

AIRC Statement

9 August 2005

Minister Andrews suggests a 3-year transitional period for sole traders and farmers to incorporate their operations.

Business slams 3 year confusion

9 August 2005

Advertising agency Dewey Horton wins the tender for the Federal Government s $20 million IR advertising campaign. Agency head Ted Horton handled the federal election advertising campaign for the Liberal party.

Libs election ad man awarded IR campaign

10 August 2005

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry explains that the AIRC s parental leave ruling does not give workers the right to have extra time off after the birth of a child.

ACCI Message to employers

11 August 2005

Premier Beattie introduces legislation into Qld Parliament to protect existing employees entitlements prior to federal IR takeover

Workers rights move

11 August 2005

Minister Andrews confirmed that those who have better long service leave provisions than 4 weeks in awards will keep these provisions.

Labour Force Figures July

12 August 2005

WA Government makes a submission in support of the ACTU and Federal Labor s High Court challenge against the Howard Government s use of public money to fund the IR advertising campaign.

State enters IR court challenge

13 August 2005

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks releases a blueprint for economic reform, suggesting a new federal-state compact to keep Australia near the top of the world s economic ladder.

A Third Wave of National Reform

15 August 2005

The ACTU presented parliamentarians with a new booklet detailing actual workers' experiences under the Howard Government's industrial relations laws. The workers' stories are typical of the problems facing up to ten million working Australians whose rights are threatened by proposed reforms.

Why workplace rights are important to Australian families ACTU Booklet

15 August 2005

WA National Party s annual conference expresses concerns with federal IR takeover proposal and dismissal exemption at 100 or less employees.

PM rebuffs nationals on IR fears

16 August 2005

A convoy of hundreds of truck owner-drivers travels from Sydney to Canberra to protest against the proposed IR changes.

Cabinet disorder on IR deepens

17 August 2005

House of Representatives Employment Committee reports on labour hire and contracting.

Making it work

17 August 2005

Government support for a Senate inquiry into the proposed IR bill/s terminates.

Andrews backs down on workplace inquiry

18 August 2005

Prof. David Peetz (Griffith University) claims the IR proposals will result in a highly complex system of partisan regulation hard to match in the industrialised world

Australian Bulletin of Labour, June 2005

19 August 2005

Senior workplace relations lawyers have been seconded by the federal government to assist in drafting the WR Act. The ACTU claims this is giving big business a boost.

Employers' advocates help draft IR bill

23 August 2005

Victorian Government announces a new workplace rights advocate to warn employees against signing inferior agreements.

Workplace rights advocate

26 August 2005

Unions plan to levy members additional $5.50 pa for 2 years to fund IR advertising campaign.

Unions levy millions for IR battle

29 August 2005

Research by the University of Sydney s Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training (ACIRRT) challenges PM Howard s claim that average workers have enjoyed a 14% pay rise since 1998.

Real Earning Trends

29 August 2005

PM Howard says the ACIRRT analysis of his claim is fundamentally flawed .

Real wages PM s Press Release

1 September 2005

Tasmanian Government proposes to protect workers on Tasmanian awards

PM sidesteps IR questions

2 September 2005

AIRC President Justice Geoffrey Giudice mounts a spirited defence of the institution s record in setting minimum wages; he also outlines a proposed set of criteria for assessing the structure of the Fair Pay Commission.

Speech to the IR Society of the Northern Territory

9 September 2005

The Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations queries key elements of the IR proposals, suggesting they could lead to lower wages and impose unfair burdens on low-paid workers.

Briefing Paper No.1 on the Commonwealth Government's proposals

14 September 2005

The International Monetary Fund s staff report on Australia says the proposed IR legislation would widen employment opportunities and raise productivity by enhancing flexibility in work arrangements.

IMF - Australia - 2005 Article IV consultation - staff report...

14 September 2005

The workplace relations debate is one of the main reasons Australians say they will change their voting intentions at a federal election, a new survey has found. Small businesses are keen on reform, but workers fear it would not be good for them.

Jury out on reform agenda newspaper article

15 September 2005

ACTU President Sharan Burrow writes to the Managing Director of the IMF concerning the IMF s support for the Federal Government s recently proposed reforms of industrial relations in Australia.

Response from the IMF

15 September 2005

Secret focus groups used to trial the Federal Government s $20 million advertising campaign on workplace reforms have been left confused and concerned about the changes.

It doesn't work - $20m work reform ads off target newspaper article

20 September 2005

PM Howard says that the forthcoming IR laws would remove any award provision (state or federal) that restricted the range of apprenticeships, and that the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) would set competitive apprentice/trainee wages.

Workplace Relations Reform and Apprenticeships Press Release

21 September 2005

The ACTU criticises the proposed changes, claiming they remove protections that ensured apprentices got full quality qualifications and wage safety nets.

Apprentice wage fears newspaper article

21 September 2005

The ACTU lodges its last national wage claim with the AIRC, seeking a rise of 4% for lowest paid workers. This would lift the minimum wage to above $500 a week.

ACTU makes final wages bid newspaper article

22 September 2005

The next sitting of the House of Representatives is delayed a week (until 10 October), as drafting of the IR reform bill/s is incomplete.


24 September 2005

ACTU commences second round of advertisements against the proposed reforms at AFL Grand Final, Melbourne MCG.


27 September 2005

Economist Mark Wooden argues that the proposed reforms limit choice by not effecting collective preference for collective agreements.

Australia s Industrial Relations Reform Agenda

29 September 2005

High Court refuses ALP/ACTU application for an injunction against Government advertisements

High Court Orders

Reasons for the decision

29 September 2005

PM John Howard proposes financial assistance of up to $4000 for those unlawfully dismissed after the reforms are passed

PM s statement

5 October 2005

Minister Andrews announces that DEWR s office of workplace services (OWS) will takeover the Employment Advocate s compliance/inspectorate functions

OWS statement

5 October 2005

Anglican Archbishop Watson criticises the proposed IR reforms


9 October 2005

PM John Howard and Minister Andrews jointly announce details of the Australian Government s move towards one simpler national workplace relations system.

Work Choices: A New Workplace Relations System

9 October 2005

Transcript of Joint Press Conference of the Prime Minister and Minister Andrews: Parliament House, Canberra: Workchoices

Press Conference

9 October 2005

The Government s IR television advertising campaign begins.

Prime-time launch-newspaper article

10 October 2005

The Senate proposes to review the Work Choices Bill by 22 November 2005.

Senate Reference

13 October 2005

PM Howard announces Professor Ian Harper to chair the Australian Fair Pay Commission.

Press Release - Hon Kevin Andrews MP

13 October 2005

The Federal Government agrees to a Senate inquiry into its new IR legislation.

Press Release

17 October 2005

Salvation Army says that the Federal Government s IR reforms are not the best way of reaching full employment.

Media Release Salvation Army

18 October 2005

Minister Andrews rejects Salvation Army criticisms of the Workplace Reforms.

Press Release - Hon Kevin Andrews MP

19 October 2005

Social Action Office which represents 20 religious orders joins the ecclesiastical resistance to the Federal Governments IR changes.

Briefing Paper Social Action Office

20 October 2005

ACNeilsen figures reveal that the government has spent $15 million in the first fortnight of its advertising campaign.

$15m spent on IR advertising - Newspaper article

21 October 2005

Prime Minister estimates the government will spend up to $ 40 million advertising its workplace reforms.

Transcript of the Prime Minister, The Hon John Howard MP - Interview With Neil Mitchell, Radio 3AW, Melbourne

25 October 2005

Newspoll survey shows that voters are concerned about the government s proposed industrial relations changes.

Newspoll Survey - Newspaper article

26 October 2005

ACNielsen polls published in the Sydney Morning Herald and Age newspapers show that a majority of people think that workplace relations changes would not affect them directly.

ACNielsen Opinion Polls Sydney Morning Herald

ACNielsen Opinion Polls - Age

26 October 2005

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke critical of the forthcoming industrial relations reforms.

Lionel Murphy Memorial Lecture

27 October 2005

The IMF responds to the President of the ACTU (see 15 September 2005).

Response from the IMF

30 October 2005

The Business Council of Australia begins airing advertisements on television proclaiming the need for a new industrial relations system and economic reforms.

BCA press release

31 October 2005

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry issues a report pushing the case for creating a single national industrial relations system that overrides those of the states.

Functioning Federalism... ACCI Report

2 November 2005

The Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Bill 2005 is introduced into the House of Representatives by Minister Andrews. It is 687 pages, with a 565-page Explanatory Memorandum


2 November 2005

The Opposition sought to delay the Minister's second reading speech, with Shadow IR Minister Stephen Smith arguing it was a clear breach of standing orders to proceed when ALP members did not have copies of the bill or the explanatory memorandum (only two were made available on the parliamentary table.)
The Speaker, however, rejected his position, after copies of the legislation were distributed in the Lower House - a ruling to which the Opposition formally dissented.


4 November 2005

Australia's Anglican Archbishops and 17 Anglican Bishops expressed "grave concerns" that there will not be enough time to assess properly the Federal Government's proposed industrial changes.

Statement of Anglican Leaders' approach to 'WorkChoices' legislation

8 November 2005

Business Council of Australia president Michael Chaney says the proposed workplace changes are the continuation of a necessary process that began 20 years ago, and not a radical overhaul to be resisted.

Renewed reform: why it's an imperative

10 November 2005

The federal government guillotined debate on the IR reforms. Leader of the House, Tony Abbott, claimed that more time had been spent debating the changes than on any other bill (more than 24 hours). Labor said that more than 20 members had been denied their wish to speak on the Bill.

The Bill passed 80 votes to 61.

The fast-track Senate inquiry will hold five days of hearings in Canberra, and will report on Tuesday November 22.

PM Howard's speech on the need for the legislation.

The Special Minister for State Eric Abetz introduces the workplace reforms legislation to the Senate.

HoR Hansard 10 November 2005

10 November 2005

Trade unions seek to sidestep the new system for setting minimum wage increases by asking state industrial commissions to award a 4% pay rise next year. (Victoria excepted)

Unions hit back with wage claim newspaper article

14 November 2005

15 November 2005

16 November 2005

17 November 2005

18 November 2005

The Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Committee s Inquiry into the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005 begins. Among attendees are the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations; State and Territory Ministers for Industrial Relations; Australian Industry Group and the Uniting Church.

Attendees include the Housing Industry Association, National Farmers Federation, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Finance Sector Union and the Australian Services Union.

Attendees include the ACTU; Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association; ACROD; Australian Nursing Federation.

Attendees include the Australian Workers Union; the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; the Transport Workers Union; the Master Builders Association; Prof David Peetz and Prof Andrew Stewart (specialists on labour law)

Attendees include Australian Mining and Metals Association; University of Melbourne Law School; and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

Key Submissions

Transcript 14 November 2005

Transcript 15 November 2005

Transcript 16 November 2005

Transcript 17 November 2005

Transcript 18 November 2005

15 November 2005

National Day of Community Protest against the federal government s proposed industrial relations changes. The ACTU claims that half a million people took to the streets of cities and towns across Australia to protest against the industrial relations reforms. However the ACCI said more than 95% of workers had ignored the call to join the protest.


20 November 2005

In a report and interview on Channel 9 s Sunday program, both PM Howard and Workplace Relations Minister Andrews were confronted with real life situations in which workers were losing wages and conditions through individual agreements.

Transcript - Sunday Program

22 November 2005

Polling shows the Government losing ground to Labor, with the unpopular workplace changes giving Labor a boost.

Labor surges to lead as IR fury bites

22 November 2005

The Senate inquiry report recommends that the Government's workplace relations legislation should be passed by Parliament and made law. However, all non-government senators, in dissenting reports, were opposed to the contentious Work Choices Bill.

Provisions of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005

25 November 2005

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference called the IR proposals immoral and urged several changes.

Statement and media release

25 November 2005

A meeting of the Queensland Nationals management committee urged that changes be made to the IR Bill., however no resolution was passed. The Nationals had earlier voted with the Beattie Labor Government in a motion in State Parliament calling on Qld senators to reject the reforms. Federal Nationals leader Mark Vaile claims that any changes would be minor and acceptable

Newspaper article

28 November 2005

Dr Don Edgar, founding head of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, releases a family impact statement commissioned by Unions NSW, which states that the IR proposals will damage relationships within families.

Family Impact Statement

28 November 2005

A research paper produced by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library reviews the Commonwealth s power to establish a single IR system, and suggests that employers should factor in the prospect of legal uncertainty from constitutional challenges to the Work Choices legislation.

The Constitution and industrial relations: is a unitary system achievable?

29 November 2005

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry released a paper canvassing economic arguments in favour of IR changes to simplify costs of workplace regulation.

The Economic Case for Workplace Relations Reform

29 November 2005

The November Sensis Business Index found most smaller business operators believe the new laws will have no real impact on business.

Newspaper article

Sensis Business Index Nov 2005

30 November 2005

The Democrats propose extensive amendments which unwind many of the key provisions of the legislation; only one is passed. The Greens and Family First also propose amendments which are rejected.

Legislative documents

30 November 2005

National Senator Barnaby Joyce wins some concessions to the legislation the right to refuse to work on iconic public holidays; guaranteed fortnightly pay (unless agreed otherwise); and changes to the unfair dismissal provisions.


2 December 2005

The Work Choices Bill with Government amendments passes the Senate 35-33. A time limit on debate on amendments is imposed by the Government.

Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005

7 December 2005

The Work Choices Bill passes the House of Representatives. Most provisions are expected to apply from March 2006; setting up the Fair Pay Commission and removing the obligation for small businesses to pay severance will take effect once Royal Assent is given.

Amended Workplace Relations Act

8 December 2005

Tasmanian teachers cancel federal award, revert to State award to avoid Work Choices. Tasmanian nurses to do likewise.

Newspaper article

Newspaper article

9 December 2005

PM Howard justifies the absence of union bargaining rights in Work Choices as support for minority rights .

Newspaper article

14 December 2005

Barrister Steve Crawshaw SC suggests that to counter Work Choices industrial action provisions, the States enact trade union immunity legislation to prevent state courts being used in common law actions for damages against unions


14 December 2005

Key parts of the Work Choices Act are given Royal Assent. This will establish the Fair Pay Commission; exempt businesses employing 15 or fewer from redundancy pay; and create a national regime regulating the employment of school-based apprentices and trainers. Most provisions in the Bill s Schedule 1 are not expected to come into force until March 2006.


19 December 2005

The Australian reports on a previously unreleased Treasury Minute which concludes that wage rises will be smaller and productivity increases less, under WorkChoices.

Treasury Executive Minute

19 December 2005

Minister Andrews releases two discussion papers on award rationalisation and award simplification, which will guide the Award Review Task Force. The papers seek feedback by 31 January 2006.

Discussion Papers

20 December 2005

Allegations concerning trading while insolvent raised over a company which went into receivership while Professor Harper (Chair, Fair Pay Commission) acted as a director.

Newspaper article

21 December 2005

AIRC agrees to defer safety net award wage hearings until the Fair Pay Commission makes its first decision on minimum wages expected in Spring September 2006.

AIRC decision

21 December 2005

The Australian releases opinion poll results showing that anger against Work Choices is subsiding.

Opinion poll- newspaper article

21 December 2005

NSW announces measures to protect collective bargaining against Work Choices in NSW; lodges a writ in the High Court challenging the constitutional basis of Work Choices, and proposes to expand the scope of the NSW IR Commission to allow it to conciliate and arbitrate over common law industrial agreements.

Western Australia also lodges a challenge

NSW fires shots in IR war newspaper article

04 January 2006

Australian Business Limited has branded the federal government s advertising campaign for Work Choices a failure, as only 13% of employers claim to understand the changes.

Press Release - Australian Business Limited

17 January 2006

The first Newspoll of the year shows that John Howard has experienced a resurgence in popularity after a poor performance during the IR debate.

Howard rebounds from IR poll mauling newspaper article

17 January 2006

An ALP Parliamentary IR Taskforce is set to tour Australia to gauge the effects of the Howard Government s WorkChoices legislation and will report to Opposition Leader Kim Beazley and Caucus on 8 May. It will be headed by Victorian MP Brendan O Connor, who said it had been established to highlight the adverse consequences of the IR legislation.

Press Release - B. O'Connor MP

22 January 2006

Tasmania lodges a High Court challenge to the IR laws.


23 January 2006

The Australian Government announces the appointment of 6 people to the Award Review Taskforce Reference Group

Press release - Minister Andrews

25 January 2006

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet condemned the award rationalisation process, and criticised the absence of any women on the Taskforce Reference Group.


30 January 2006

NSW IR Commission allows federally regulated employees to seek reinstatement in the NSW jurisdiction via their union notifying a collective dispute challenging the Workplace Relations Act


31 January 2006

Queensland lodges a High Court challenge to the new IR laws.


2 February 2006

The full bench of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission has ruled that it has the power to reinstate a sacked federally-covered worker, under s137(1)(b) of the NSW IR Act.


7 February 2006

Minister Andrews reschedules the next Workplaces Relations Ministerial Council meeting to May. NSW IR Minister Della Bosca says that is too late for the states and territories to be adequately informed about the implementation phase of the Work Choices Act..


8 February 2006

In a Directions Hearing, the High Court provisionally set aside 8 12 May to hear State (and other) submissions on the constitutionality of Work Choices.


9 February 2006

Award Review Taskforce meets for first time. Qld barrister Andrew Herbert replaces the AWU s David Cragg on the Taskforce, after the ACTU said it would not be party to award slash and burn . Chair of the Taskforce argues that contradictions of Work Choices have made awards more complicated and may seek an extension for reporting.

Submissions on award rationalisation

16 February 2006

Senate Estimates reveal that almost $750,000 has been spent on external law firms in 2005-06 to draft the new IR laws and regulations and the total cost of Work Choices across a number of agencies will be $458.9m over 4 years.

Senate Estimates 16 February 2006

2 March 2006

Treasurer Peter Costello warns the States not to withhold reference of powers (re corporations power). A previous limited term referral was due to expire mid year.

House of Representatives Hansard 2 March 2006

2 March 2006

Finance Minister Senator Minchin addresses a meeting of the H.R. Nicholls Society, acknowledging that the recent IR reforms are extremely unpopular, and suggesting that the Government seek a mandate at the next election for further reform, targeting awards and the Industrial Relations Commission.

AM program - 8 March 2006

3 March 2006

Victoria files its application to the High Court challenging the constitutionality of the Work Choices Act.


8 March 2006

NSW passes legislation to protect NSW public sector employees from the Work Choices Act by making the NSW government the employer of corporatised NSW employees, and a second bill allowing the NSW IRC to hear disputes over common law contracts.

Public Sector Employment Legislation Amendment Bill 2006

16 March 2006

Proclamation of Work Choices Act to take effect on 27 March 2006


19 March 2006

Regulations to the Work Choices Act released


23 March 2006

Minister Andrews announces a one month extension for Award Review Taskforce to report

Media Release

27 March 2006

The Work Choices Act comes into effect. In addition to the Chair of the AFPC, the Government announced the appointment of 4 part time commissioners to the AFPC: Judith Sloan, Hugh Armstrong, Patrick McClure and Michael O Hagan

Workchoices Act - speech

WorkChoices Act provisions

Fair Pay Commissioners

27 March 2006

Minister Andrews acknowledges that employees could be sacked because of personality clashes with employers. AIRC release Fact Sheets to assist users of Work Choices.

ABC Lateline

Fact Sheets

27 March 2006

The Office of Workplace Services (formerly within DEWR) is gazetted to have the status of an executive agency.

The OEA releases information advices on agreement-making requirements, eg prohibited content.


Agreement information

28 March 2006

Former PM Paul Keating defends his 1993 IR reforms and contrasts these to Work Choices reforms

WorkChoices the enemy of productivity-article

28 March 2006

NSW Premier Iemma announces a Legislative Council committee inquiry into Work Choices

Members not getting the message newspaper article

28 March 2006

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet warns unionists that a wide policy agenda re union rights needs to be followed in the event that the High Court challenge is or is not successful.

Unions push Labor into IR rethink newspaper article

30 March 2006

WA Govt introduces industrial legislation as a counter to Work Choices.

Labour Relations Amendment Bill 2006

31 March 2006

UnionsNSW commissioned Newspoll survey shows that 1 in 5 Coalition voters would change their vote due to new laws, while a higher number of ALP supporters may switch due to ALP infighting.

Feuding robs Labor of chance to exploit voters' IR anger newspaper article

31 March 2006

An abattoir in Cowra, NSW, serves notice to sack 29 workers for operational reasons under the new laws. It invites the workers to reapply for 20 jobs on lower pay rates.

Abattoir job cuts first in law newspaper article

3 April 2006

The new Office of Workplace Services (OWS) investigates the case.

Press release - Minister Andrews

5April 2006

The abattoir workers notice is withdrawn. The Government claims that the new legislation has protected workers. Critics claim that media scrutiny caused the withdrawal of notices.

Abattoir workers win their jobs back newspaper article

7 April 2006

The Prime Minister and the Treasurer jointly respond to a Govt Taskforce on business regulation by announcing that the cost of incorporation will be reduced from $800 to $400 an incentive for businesses to incorporate

Rethinking Regulation

Interim Response

9 April 2006

AIRC President, G. Giudice compared the different minimum wage setting standards Work Choices stipulated for the AFPC compared to the those the WR Act previously stipulated for the AIRC re setting a safety net of wages

Transcript of the ABC s The National Interest

11 April 2006

Minister Andrews announced a team of specialists to investigate breaches of Work Choices and advised that prosecutions for breaches of cease action orders would cease

Media Statement

12 April 2006

ACTU Secretary Combet commented on the possibility of opening up the corporations power eg in restraining executive salaries, specify directors fees and having the AIRC set minimum wages

we ll cap boss s pay

18 April 2006

Minister Andrews announces that regulations will be changed, easing the time recording obligations on employers under Work Choices

Media Statement

18 April 2006

First ministerial challenges under Work Choices to an AIRC decision to allow ANF protected industrial action without a secret ballot.

(Ministerial statement not on-line)

19 April 2006

Minister Andrews in a radio interview confirmed that employers of fewer than 100 could sack with impunity

Radio ABC 891

27 April 2006

AFPC chair Ian Harper advised that minimum wage rates could differ between regions and industries

Fair pay boss says all is not equal

newspaper article

28 April 2006

Minister Andrews launches ADRAS (whereby up to $1500 is available to parties who seek to use alternatives to the AIRC in disputes) and UTAS (unlawful termination of employment assistance of up to $4000).

Work Choice website news

28 April 2006

Victorian unions secretary Brian Boyd proposes that the Vic Govt should withdraw the referral of IR powers to the Cwlth.

Unions split with Bracks

newspaper article

4 May 2006

The High Court commences substantive hearings on the States and union challenge to Work Choices

Transcript: 4/5 5/5 8/5 9/5 10/5, 11/5

10 May 2006

CFMEU alleges that the OEA has refused to certify provisions in agreements allowing for unpaid union safety training

Union safety training must stay

(newspaper article)

12 May 2006

Shadow IR minister Stephen Smith argues that prohibited content rules on union OHS training as well as restrictions on union right of entry to workplace inhibit workplace safety

Press release & paper

22 May 2006

Minister Andrews provides example of allowable OHS clause in a workplace agreement

Beasley caught out on OHS claim

22 May 2006

CFMEU members in the Hunter Valley (NSW) commence first protected industrial action under a Work Choices ballot

Miners on strike

(newspaper article)

24 May 2006

Shadow IR Minister Stephen Smith provided an analysis of Work Choices AWAs with the Spotlight grocery business, showing that award penalty rates, overtime and paid rest breaks had been bargained away in return for an increase for an increase 2c ph higher than the relevant award rate

Work Choices a choice between lower pay or no job

25 May 2006

Work Choices Regulations approved by House of Representatives

Hansard (from p.1)

29 May 2006

Youth group announces plan to set itself up as a trade union by using Work Choices bargaining agency provisions

Rebel group fights for fast food workers

29 May 2006

The OEA informed Senate Estimates that of a sample of 4 per cent of all AWAs filed under Work Choices, 16 per cent excluded all protected award conditions and 22 per cent didn t provide for a pay rise over their term.

Committee Hansard


30 May 2006

OEA informed Senate Estimates that union OHS training clauses had been excluded from agreements filed, per regulations on prohibited content.


Div 2.8(5)(1)(c)

31 May 2006

The Age cites a preliminary report on the Cowra Abattoir sackings by OWS which finds that the employer acted lawfully. ACTU calls for repeal of Cowra clauses

Watchdog backs bosses

ACTU statement

9 June 2006

The ILO requested that the Government report on the Work Choices Act re its impact on freedom of association and collective bargaining conventions.

Report of the Committee of Experts pp.43-46

11 June 2006

ACTU commences new (3rd) round of TV commercials which reflect on individuals work experiences under Work Choices.

ACTU backgrounder

11 June 2006

ALP leader Kim Beazley announces the abolition of AWAs following the OEA s Estimates report, and the restoration of public holidays upon an ALP federal election win.

Media statements: AWAs, public holidays

13 June 2006

Qld IR Minister Barton requests the Qld IRC to conduct a 6 month inquiry into the impact of Work Choices

Qld IRC statement on Qld DIR website

13 June 2006

AIRC considers employee challenge to dismissal for operational reasons but concedes that employees have poor chance of mounting facts against the employer.

Koya v Port Phillip City Council

15 June 2006

The 2006 edition of the OECD s Employment Outlook casts doubts on decentralised bargaining and low minimum wages

Employment Outlook 2006

20 June 2006

ALP IR Taskforce on Work Choices releases its first report

Interim report

20 June 2006

Another AIRC decision on operational reasons rejected the notion the abolition of positions in a restructure could always be attributed to operational reasons

Perry v Savills

22 June 2006

Minister Andrews introduces Independent Contractors Bill and WR Act amendment to Parliament

Independent Contractors Bill 2006

WR Amendment (Independent Contractors) Bill 2006

26 June 2006

Economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel releases an Economic Bulletin which doubts that Work Choices will alleviate productivity and shortages constraints to growth

BIS Shrapnel s Work Choices alert

(newspaper article)

26 June 2006

ACTU secretary claims that unions once run the country

Combet joke on power of unions

(newspaper article)

26 June 2006

Industrial relations commissions of NSW and WA order $20 wage increases for state award workers not covered by Work Choices

States hit PM with pay rise

(newspaper article)

27 June 2006

CFMEU provides data on productivity improvements in black coal sector to iron ore and gold mining sectors showing that productivity improved more under collective bargaining coal sector

CFMEU productivity comparison, WorkChoices few reasons to be cheerful

27 June 2006

The Government refers the Independent Contractors Bills to a fast-track Senate inquiry to report on August 25. The legislation was promised in the 2004 election campaign. The Bills received Royal Assent on 11 December 2006

Senate inquiry; Report

28 June 2006

Mass protests involving tens of thousands against Work Choices in Australian cities

Brant pitches in for IR rescue

(newspaper article)

28 June 2006

A survey by The Age shows that some major firms will not use Work Choices to push contracts

Big firms shun IR revolution (newspaper article)

3 July 2006

A coalition of women s groups will undertake research on pay and conditions, expressing concern that the Fair Pay Commission does not have an explicit obligation to consider gender pay equity.

Research accord to promote equal pay newspaper article

5 July 2006

The latest Newspoll shows voter dissatisfaction with PM Howard at an eight-month high. Secret Labor Party polling shows that the PM s popularity has taken a considerable hit.

Howard hit hard by IR - Labor poll newspaper article

5 July 2006

The CFMEU will fund a Federal court test of employee protection measures under WorkChoices, after Lorissa Stevens claimed she was sacked as a casual with a mining contractor for refusing to sign an AWA, which would have required her to give 12 hours notice of being sick.

Union will use miner's sacking to test laws.- newspaper article

5 July 2006

SA IRC awarded pay rise of between $17 to $18 pw to SA state award workers


7 July 2006

The Office of Workplace Services reported that the Cowra abattoir sackings in March were not unlawful. Labor and the ACTU say the decision proves that companies can sack workers then rehire them on inferior conditions.

Both sides claim a win in Cowra abattoir decision - radio program

7 July 2006

The OEA reported that 41,000 AWAs had been filed in the first 3 months of Work Choices.

Workplace agreements fact sheet, April-June 2006,

10 July 2006

Qld IR Court rules that a church based organisation running certain schools is a trading corporation

Queensland Industrial Relations Court

11 July 2006

The ACTU proposed a counter industrial scheme to Work Choices, in which workers must have a democratic say in deciding what sort of agreement should apply to them.

Unions escalate IR roll-back Democracy s role in the workplace newspaper articles

13 July 2006

AiG s Heather Ridout rebuts Mr Combet

ACTU plan is step backward newspaper article

13 July 2006

A Morgan poll published in the Australian claims that AWA workers appear to be less satisfied with conditions compared to other workers

Morgan Poll

15 July 2006

Queensland s Industrial Relation Commission announces an inquiry into the impact of WorkChoices on workplaces, employees and employers

Newspaper advertisement

20 July 2006

The ACTU releases an ACCI internal document, put to Minister Andrews on July 12, which outlines suggested wide-ranging changes to the new laws.

Business demands more IR muscle newspaper article

20 July 2006

ACCI Chief Executive Peter Hendy releases a statement in response to the leaked document.

Business clarifies ongoing workplace relations dialogue with government

21 July 2006

Acting Workplace Relations Minister Philip Ruddock says the Government does not intend further changes to workplace laws.

No more IR changes, minister vows newspaper article

26 July 2006

An investigation by the Office of Workplace Services (OWS) finds that the ads run by the ACTU are inaccurate. People claimed to have been sacked by bosses taking advantage of the new laws, however the OWS says most would have lost their jobs before the new laws were introduced.

What the ACTU's ads failed to reveal newspaper article

27 July 2006

ACTU President Combet accuses the OWS of shonky, politically motivated muck-raking . OWS Director Nick Wilson says it did not conduct a specific investigation, but was already probing the cases.

ACTU hits out at ad campaign finding newspaper article

27 July 2006

The Qld and Tasmanian IR Commissions announced award wage increases, Qld,: $19.40 pw; Tas: $20.00 pw. ACTU submits $30pw wage claim for Work Choices workers.

Workforce 1549

1 August 2006

A MYOB survey reveals that only 9% of small businesses plan to use WorkChoices to make changes; 2 out of 5 small businesses believe it is unfair to many employees.

WorkChoices law not for us - newspaper article

1 August 2006

The OECD s Economic Survey of Australia 2006 (Ch. 5) commends the WorkChoices package, but says the Federal Government should go further and either abolish industrial awards altogether or pare them back; and introduce a single, low minimum wage.

Economic Survey of Australia 2006

4 August 2006

In a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the provisions of the Independent Contractors Bills, ACCI suggested a rethink of plans to protect workers sacked then rehired as independent contractors, while the ACTU urges the bills not be passed unless protections for pay, leave and bargaining rights are included.


6 August 2006

PM Howard says that the new laws may need fine-tuning

Meet the Press - TV transcript

7 August 2006

The ACTU launches new advertisements attacking the new laws. The Federal Government attacks the accuracy of the campaign.

Unions press on with IR campaign newspaper article

8 August 2006

PM Howard claims there is no such thing as a Catholic position on industrial relations , in response to criticism of the new laws by the Bishop of Parramatta, Kevin Manning.

Hansard 8 August 2006

Bishop Manning's speech 31 July 2006

9 August 2006

PM establishes 2nd Govt Taskforce on Workplace Relations, and announces that a new ministerial position has been created Minister assisting the Minister for Workplace Relations.

PM s statement

10 August 2006

ABS reports that unemployment fell in July to 4.8%, the lowest rate since May 1976. PM Howard notes that since the new laws were introduced, 159,000 new jobs have been created.

ACCI s Peter Hendy says it is too early to attribute the job growth to the reforms, but they have given employers greater flexibility

PM's press conference

ACCI Media Statement

14 August 2006

The Cowra abattoir that sacked 29 workers in March, then reinstated them, is forced into liquidation.

IR laws test-case abattoir closes its doors.

14 August 2006

PM admits IR is a struggle to the parliamentary joint party room.

Howard readies for battle

17 August 2006

Qantas flags the move to AWAs over collective agreements in respect of new JetStar recruits for its international routes, and in respect of long haul flight attendants.

Qantas stock takes off over AWA news

17 August 2006

Sydney University offers AWAs to staff, with warnings to staff about easier termination if AWAs are taken up.

Unis resist AWAs until it hurts

22 August 2006

Victorian Government proposes legislation to protect public sector workers from dismissal under Work Choices.

Press release

24 August 2006

ACTU cites Queensland employer group recommending Work Choices to introduce a flat weekend rate, make staff accountable for till shortages, remove the minimum engagement period for juniors and do away with the award system.

IR issues enter the Qld fray

24 August 2006

NSW flags industrial legislation to facilitate joint hearings with other state tribunals on award pay rates.

(to be introduced)

24 August 2006

Qld Government reports that Qld workers are witnessing a decline in income and employment security in its submission to that state s inquiry into Work Choices.

interim submission

30 August 2006

NSW proposes legislation to shield youth from Work Choices, ie preventing AWAs which pay less than the relevant NSW awards.

(legislation not yet available)

31 August 2006

Federal Court finds that Work Choices does not prevent the WA IRC from hearing a union dispute over change of shifts

Decision re BHP v AMWU

1 September 2006

AIRC's President, Justice Geoffrey Giudice, reported that between March 27 (Work Choices) and the end of August the AIRC had received fewer applications to initiate bargaining periods, challenge dismissals and to stop industrial action than it had for the corresponding period last year.

Reforms rein in industrial action

4 September 2006

Award Review Taskforce report (July 2006) is released by Minister Andrews but recommends against immediate rationalisation of pay and classification scales.

Award Review Taskforce Rationalisation of Wage and Classification Structures, July 2006

7 September 2006

ABS industrial disputes data released for the June quarter shows a fall in working days lost since Work Choices commenced.

ABS 6321

7 September 2006

OWS finds that 61 Canberra restaurants breached (pre-reform) award conditions and recovers $135,735 for 306 employees.

Crackdown will force restaurants to close

8 September 2006

Media reports of 50 Heinemann employees who refused overtime being docked for 40 ordinary hours worked in a Work Choices protected action dispute.

Test for IR laws as workers docked

8 September 2006

19 Radio Rental technicians who took part in a 4 hour bargaining stoppage were locked out for up to a month.

Radio Rentals locks out staff

9 September 2006

Opposition leader Kim Beazley announces that workers who vote for a collective bargain should have the vote recognised.

Beazley to restore collective bargains

Beazley s IR plan lashed

11 September 2006

Creditors voted to send the Cowra abattoir into liquidation, after the administrator found that $1.8m had been recently transferred to a related entity and queried breaches of corporations law.

Abattoir boss and the $2m mystery

13 September 2006

ACTU releases its collective bargaining report from a delegation visiting o/s countries. Minister Andrews claims that ACTU and ALP bargaining policies conflict.

Collective bargaining report. Combet lets cat out of bag

15 September 2006

PM is reported in an interview that employers should decide the form of agreement.


18 September 2006

The Prime Minister argued that the deregulated environment of Work Choices has prevented a wages breakout in a strong economy with skills shortages.

Address to the AFR's Skilling Australia Conference

19 September 2006

Victoria is to use government purchasing power to ensure suppliers meet pre- Work Choices award and agreement provisions.

Ethical purchasing policy

20 September 2006

South Australia introduces legislation to shield 61 000 state GBE employees from Work Choices

SA House of Assembly Hansard

22 September 2006

ACTU clarifies its collective bargaining position

All have a right to a fair deal

22 September 2006

Minister Andrews announces that record-keeping requirements of Work Choices are to be delayed for a further 6 months and that agreements will not be able to include sick leave penalty provisions

Amendments to Workplace Relations Regulations

28 September 2006

Former PM Keating argues that a future ALP should use the full extent of powers, should the High Court so find

Keating tells Labor -

2 October 2006

Tasmania s Parliament sets up a Work Choices scrutiny committee.


3 October 2006

OWS intends to prosecute a company for allegedly lodging a workplace agreement approved by others than those it was designed to apply to.

IR regulator takes cleaners to court

3 October 2006

Academic Ron McCallum suggested that Work Choices would be swept aside in 6-8 years.

Labour law lecture

10 October 2006

Vic Govt releases a survey showing that AWAs are less likely to provide for overtime, penalties and leave loading

Working Conditions Snapshot 2006

12 October 2006

PM releases Skills for the Future designed to upgrade low and semi skilled workers.

Skills for the Future

19 October 2006

OEA statistics show that 129, 678 AWAs, 971 union collective agreements and 1162 employee collective deals have been lodged under Work Choices. Union agreements covered 58% of all persons under agreements.

Real choice under Work Choices

25 October 2006

ACTU announces its industrial relations policy, targeting Work Choices provisions.

ACTU IR policy

26 October 2006

The Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) announces its first pay decision increasing pay and classification scales by between $27.36 (FMW now of $511.76) and $22.04 (for rates at $700 or higher, 3.8% to 4%).

AFPC decision summary; Wage timing shows disparity

30 October 2006

The company Heinemann, the subject of a dispute in which employees who took overtime industrial action were denied ordinary hours pay, agreed to a union workplace agreement.

Heinemann capitulates

2 November 2006

The OEA informs Senate Estimates Committee that it is no longer obtaining data on AWA protected award provisions for analysis purposes.

Committee Hansard

3 November 2006

Federal Govt releases its response to the Award Taskforce s Award Rationalisation Report.

Govt Response

7 November 2006

The Victorian Bracks Govt announces its IR policy which includes a Victorian Workplace Pay and Conditions Standard.

IR policy

14 November 2006

The High Court determined that the Workplace Relations Act (amended by Work Choices) was valid Commonwealth law and a majority (5-2) rejected the States and union case on all points.

High Court decision

28 November 2006

Federal Court overturns Employment Advocate s justification to refuse to approve leave to OEA staff to attend nation-wide Work Choices rally on operational reasons .

CPSU success

30 November 2006

Nationwide protests against Work Choices.

Workers rally

4 December 2006

Parliament passes Independent Contractors Act and related amendments to the WR Act which include a new stand down provisions, preserving CA redundancy entitlements beyond the CA s termination, allowing employers to have employees waive the information statement and sign AWAs on-the-spot. (Operative from 12 December)

Media release

6 December 2006

ACTU brings forward 2008 levy ($5.50 per member) to raise $10 million to continue the media campaign against Work Choices.

ACTU levy

8 December 2006

Unions and employers condemn the Government and the AFPC for being unable to publish the full and accurate details of Pay and Classification Scales following Work Choices takeover of State awards and agreements.

Pay scales confusion

23 January 2007

Joe Hockey takes over as WR minister from Kevin Andrews.

Ministerial changes

14 February 2007

Qld academic David Peetz released a report on the first 9 months of Work Choices finding it cut productivity and real wages and unfairly removed workers' employment conditions.

Brave New Work Choices

15 February 2007

The OEA Peter McIlwain reported to a Senate Committee a total of 1,150,348 AWAs (since 1997) had been made - 899,384 pre Work Choices.

Millionth AWA

28 February 2007

ABS releases earnings data for agreements including under the first few months of Work Choices, Minister Hockey refutes evidence that women s earnings have fallen.

National Press Club speech

22 March 2007

The ACTU called for the mining industry to accept that AWAs will be axed at the AMMA National Conference.

Mining body steps up attack

23 March 2007

Minister Hockey flags amendments to make unions accountable for spending funds against Work Choices.

Workplace relations: speech

24 March 2007

Minister Joe Hockey denied advising Tristar to make workers redundant, then re-hire them on individual contracts.

Hockey denies sacking

26 March 2007

59% of voters nationally - including 25% of Coalition voters - oppose the Work Choices changes, according to an AC Nielsen opinion poll.

Workplace law loathed

27 March 2007

On the first anniversary of Work Choices, Victorian Govt releases a report on effects of Work Choices.

Assessing the impact

29 March 2007

Senator Fielding (Family First) introduces private member s Bill aiming to restore some standards removed by Work Choices.

Second reading

30 March 2007

Darrell Lea reported as offering AWAs which scrap penalty rates and freezes wages; OWS investigates.

Darrell Lea deal

30 March 2007

ACTU lodges submission with the Fair Pay Commission seeking an increase in pay scales of $28.

Wage claim

5 April 2007

PM Howard calls on Business to fund a counter union campaign on Work Choices.

PM s campaign call

12 April 2007

PM Howard claimed a link between Work Choices' abolition of unfair dismissal laws and low unemployment.

Dismissal and unemployment

15 April 2007

Minister Hockey claims the anti Work Choices campaign is funded at close to $100m.

Campaign cost

17 April 2007

Media report apparently based on leaked OEA data shows 45% of Work Choices AWAs stripped all protected award conditions.

AWA report

17 April 2007

New Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd outlines plans on dismissal, secret ballots, strike pay and restricting industrial action.

Facing the Future

24 April 2007

The cosmetics business Priceline is found by the AIRC not to have broken Work Choices by sacking then re-employing at lower pay.

Priceline dismissal

25 April 2007

Shadow IR Minister Julia Gillard announces more elements of the ALP s IR policy including the abolition of the AIRC and creating Fair Work Australia body.

Gillard interview

28 April 2007

The ALP releases its IR Policy at the ALP national Conference comprising 10 legislated standards and a further ten in awards abolition of the AIRC replacing it with Fair Work Australia .

Forward with Fairness

30 April 2007

Minister Hockey releases an analysis of the ALP s IR policy claiming it will lead to bargaining fees.

Comparison of ALP policy with Work Choices

4 May 2007

Following a meeting with Shadow IR minister Julia Gillard, the mining association AMMA states it could accept pre-Work Choices AWAs.

Miners IR compromise

4 May 2007

PM Howard announces AWAs will be assessed against a new Fairness test where employees earn less than $75,000 and where the agreement modifies or removes any or all "protected" award conditions (operative from 7 May). He flags amendments on the WR Act s duress and transmission of business provisions and a public information campaign on the changes. OWS is to become the Workplace Ombudsman; the OEA to become the Workplace Authority.

PM speech

interview transcript

4 May 2007

Julia Gillard releases 10 questions as to how the Fairness Test will work in practice.

10 questions

10 May 2007

The Senate referred the non existent Fairness Test Bill to a committee for inquiry, to report by 14 June, and will report on Senator Fielding s Bill.

Senate inquiry

11 May 2007

NSW, Victorian and Queensland Governments commission a study on employees' enforceable rights pre and post-Work Choices (to be released about October 2007).

Workplace Research Centre

14 May 2007

PM Howard urges employer to retain penalty rates etc when making AWAs until the legislated Fairness Test commences.

Pay the Award

16 May 2007

The TV program McLeod s Daughters features a scene where a Work Choices AWA is offered reducing pay resulting in the character quitting his employment.

McLeod s Daughters

19 May 2007

Government launches new TV advertisements promoting the Fairness Test changes, and Work Choices is banned from ads and Government web sites.

Work Choices brand dumped

22 May 2007

Minister Hockey admits that the Government got it wrong in axing the previous safety net; Joint Party Room approves new safety net legislation.

Bungled on IR

23 May 2007

Senate Estimates hearings reveal that $4.1m has been spent in 1 week (21-27 May) on advertising the new safety net.

IR ad cost

24 May 2007

A company Your Employment Solutions owned by Therese Rein, wife of the federal ALP Opposition leader Kevin Rudd employed staff on contracts marginally above the award rate but buying out conditions.

YES Wages Strife

28 May 2007

Minister Hockey introduces to Parliament the Fairness Test (Stronger Safety Net) Bill.

Bill; 2nd Read and EM

30 May 2007

Government amendments to the Fairness Test Bill are introduced going to registered organisations and (further) banning bargaining fees.


4 June 2007

ACTU releases commissioned legal advice showing that the only appeal mechanism against a Workplace Authority ruling on the fairness of an AWA would be the High Court.

AWAs and the Fairness Test

6 June 2007

ABS National Accounts data for the 12 months of Work Choices shows labour costs fell 2.2% while the profit-share increased by over 1% to 28.1%.

ABS Cat No 5206

12 June 2007

ALP reveals DEWR study into economic effects of transferring workers from awards to AWAs

AWA proposed coverage

14 June 2007

Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens acknowledges low inflation due in part to changed labour market behaviour.

PM blasts Rudd on productivity

14 June 2007

The Australian Electoral Commission instigates inquiry to ACTU election manual/strategy.

AEC inquiry

20 June 2007

The Fairness Test Bill passes the Parliament incorporating certain Family First proposals, eg extending redundancy protection periods.

Bill and amendments

21 June 2007

Victorian Workplace Rights Advocate releases Employer Greenfields Agreement report.

Employer Greenfield Agreements

21 June 2007

the AEC finds that the ACTU political strategy does not breach the electoral law.

AEC clears ACTU

25 June 2007

HR consultant Graeme Haycroft criticises the Fairness Test and predicts few of the 50 000 AWAs currently in operation for 24hr industries would pass the test

Fairness Test

1 July 2007

The Workplace Authority (formerly the Office of the Employment Advocate) and the Workplace Authority (formerly the Office of Workplace Services) commence.

Fact Sheet on Fairness Test

3 July 2007

The NSW Teachers Federation releases a report on teenagers and Work Choices

You re Gold

5 July 2007

The Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) determines 27c ph increase in the minimum wage.

AFPC decision (from 1/10/2007)

Pay Scales

13 July 2007

The ACTU highlighted a lengthy strike by Esselte workers as need for effective bargaining and recognition laws.

ACTU and Ombudsman

14 July 2007

Govt funded advertising campaign for the Fairness Test featuring WA director Barbara Bennett commence.

Gillard slams ads

16 July 2007

Industrial Relations Victoria releases a report analysing AWA and collective agreement earnings using ABS earnings data.

AWAs & CAs earnings report

24 July 2007

The ABCC (Construction Commission) releases an EconTech report showing reduced building industry costs following Work Choices, Building Act and Taskforce /Commission reforms.

EconTech report

28 July 2007

The mining industry association AMMA determined to contribute $500,000 to the forthcoming employers 2007 federal election campaign ( believed to be $6-$11 million) to promote Work Choices reforms

Employer fund

31 July 2007

The Workplace Ombudsman called on the Bakers Delight franchise chain to take greater responsibility for the employment practices of their franchisees following 18 investigations.

Fight them on the breaches

1 August 2007

A NSW Govt commissioned report by Sydney University academics finds that Work Choices reforms impacted on low paid women.

Down and Out

3 August 2007

State workplace rights advocates meet to confer on a campaign countering the Federal Government s campaign.

States plot to counter Work Choices

3 August 2007

Research conducted for DEWR in April 2007 appears in News Ltd media. It shows widespread voter concerns with Work Choices and forms the basis for the July 2007 advertising campaign.

Voters fear Work Choices

7 August 2007

The Govt TV ad featuring an actor was axed after complaints that an actor featuring had underpaid apprentices.

Ad axed

8 August 2007

Employer organisations launch an advertising campaign in favour of workplace reforms.

Business to bankroll IR campaign

8 August 2007 Industrial Relations Victoria releases a report ‘Going too far’ on the experiences of 30 low paid men and women under Work Choices. It particularly reflects on the loss of unfair dismissal rights. Going Too Far
10 August 2007 Business groups release EconTech report modelling the effects of winding back IR reforms. Rates to rise again
18 August 2007 Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens doubted any return to pre 1993 wage fixation system was likely. The world according to bankers
21 August 2007 Roy Morgan commissioned polling finds that government advertising on WR laws results in twice as many having negative effects over the laws as those with positive effects. Unions target workplace ombudsman
23 August 2007 AHRI survey of HR practitioners showed that Work Choices had resulted more red tape and confusion, while more businesses were allowing personal/family leave. Howard s laws improve work-life balance
27 August 2007 Dr David Peetz refutes the EconTech study on the effects of rolling back Work Choices. Peetz submission
28 August 2007 ALP releases its Policy Implementation Plan which retains important parts of Work Choices. Policy Implementation
30 August 2007 Unions react negatively to ALP s implementation plan, particularly criticising the 5 yr transitional plan to end AWAs. IR policy provokes caning from unions
3 September 2007 Minister Hockey confirms that the Coalition has no intention to make major changes to Work Choices in the next term of government, but finetuning is possible. Fine-tuning possible
5 September 2007 The Workplace Authority releases Fairness Data on 12,000 agreements of the 123,000 lodged since May 2007. Fairness Test results
6 September 2007 The Federal Court found that DEWR breached the FOA laws in advising APS agencies to refuse leave for public servants taking part in the National Day of Action against Work Choices in Nov 2005. CPSU v Cwlth
10 September 2007 PM Howard admits that Work Choices has unnerved voters Deputy s choices haunting Howard
10 September 2007 A report by Dr Forsyth on operational reasons used in dismissal cases says that reliance on the reason increased after a key case Village Cinemas Labor to give sacking clause the boot
12 September 2007 Harvard economist Richard Freeman in a critique of Work Choices, argued that PM Howard was fighting the last war with Work Choices Harvard economist hits at unfair Work Choices
13 September 2007 A report on collective agreements made under Work Choices commissioned by the NSW, Vic and Qld governments suggest a loss of earnings for employees Poor choices, wages cut by up to a third
13 September 2007 The Federal Court fined the Mornington Inn company $170,000 for cutting the working hours of five employees who had refused to sign AWAs. Record fine for Hotel owner

18 September 2007

Fabric retailer Spotlight proposes to abandon AWAs, following rejection of 460 AWAs by the Workplace Authority under the Fairness Test, and to return to union collective agreements.

Spotlight dumps AWAs in favour of Union deal

20 September 2007

DEWR releases a report on agreement-making, including some Work Choices agreements which finds a trend away from union agreements to non union agreements and marginally shorter hours worked.

Agreement-making in Australia 2004-2006

21 September 2007

The Australian Cleaning Contractors Association indicated it would no longer use AWAs because of complexities associated with the Fairness Test

Contract cleaners plan to rip up AWAs

24 September 2007

The Business Coalition for Workplace Reform supporting workplace reforms removed one of its TV advertisements after the media reported that 2 of its actors had criminal convictions.

Ex criminals played union thugs in ad

26 September 2007

The Government instigates a number of inquiries into the Transport Workers Union over the operation of the Training Education and Industrial Rights Fund, and inter alia, awaits an assessment by the Workplace Authority of the TWU s industrial agreement with Blue Collar Recruitment under the Fairness Test

Investigation of Transport Workers Union

27 September 2007

Minister Hockey prepares amendments to regulations pertaining to the Registration of Organisations to facilitate the federal registration of the ANF Industrial Union of Workers Perth

RAO Amendments

28 September 2007

Western Australia introduces legislation to increase the rights and entitlements of young workers covered by Work Choices (similar to NSW and Queensland initiatives).

Industrial and Related Legislation Amendment Bill (WA) 2007

2 October 2007

The Workplace Research Centre releases a report on the employment conditions of 8,000 employees before and after the introduction of Work Choices. Minister Hockey and Treasurer Costello criticise the report for its (part) union funding. One of the authors, Dr John Buchanan considers defamation proceedings. The report raises criticisms over methodology.

Australian@Work; the Benchmark report

Wage research juggles numbers

Critics of our IR report are wrong

5 October 2007

Monthly statistics from the Workplace Authority show that it has actioned 145,814 of the 150,443 agreements lodged since the commencement of the test on May 7 and requested further information on 58,000.

WA Monthly Statistics (September)

6 October 2007

The Workplace Ombudsman sets up an inspectorial taskforce of 30 to inquire into agreements referred to it by the WA

Putting fairness to the test

9 October 2007

A report on the laws applying to pregnant employees, the experiences of pregnant employees and the views of other parties on the laws is released by the Victorian Workplace Rights Advocate. An author, Dr Sara Charlesworth later reports that DEWR inquired of her union connections.

Hard Labour? Pregancy, Discrimination and Workplace Rights

Apology to report author

11 October 2007

Unions report that a SA meat industry collective agreement given preliminary approval, removes $88pw and other conditions

Pay deal passes test, fails workers

12 October 2007

The industrial agreement between the TWU and Blue Collar Recruitment is reported to have failed the Fairness Test. The agreement had earlier been subject of proceedings in the AIRC and reflects ongoing casualisation of ground staff in the airline industry.

Red faces over Blue Collar deal

13 October 2007

Addressing the HR Nicholls Society conference, John Edwards, chief economist at HSBC and advisor to former Prime Minister Keating, says that Work Choices has been a political catastrophe that has taken Australia backwards a long way , while Labor s proposal to axe AWAs will not have any substantial economic impact.

John Edwards address to HR Nicholls Society

14 October 2007

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd declares in election address that he will abolish Work Choices if elected.

Press Release, Kevin Rudd MP

15 October 2007

The Prime Minister, John Howard denies claims by the ALP that the government was planning a second wave of industrial relations changes.

PM denies secret Work Choices agenda

16 October 2007

Government Work Choices advertising hits $121 million.

Press Release, Julia Gillard MP and Senator Penny Wong

17 October 2007

A study shows that Victorian workers who called community-based employment rights advocate Jobwatch after the advent of Work Choices were negative about and fearful of the legislation, with their primary concern the job insecurity resulting from unfair dismissal changes.

Going too far: Work Choices: The Victorian Experience

18 October 2007

Union officials criticise the Victorian State Labor Government for using the full force of Work Choices in a pay dispute with the state s hospital nurses, warning it would damage the ACTU s political campaign against the Howard government in the lead-up to the election.

Labor at war over IR laws

18 October 2007

The first HSC exam prompts high school students to discuss the Howard Government s Work Choices legislation.

HSC puts spotlight on Work Choices

24 October 2007

Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey is criticised for his attack on the director of Sydney University s Workplace Research Centre, Dr John Buchanan, and other researchers over their findings in the Australians@Work study that some workers were paid less under the Work Choices legislation.

Hockey smear attack on academic freedom

24 October 2007

The Treasurer Peter Costello warned that a reversal of industrial relations changes by a Rudd Government would lead to a recession.

Spin cycle: Treasurer slumps to bandying the R word

25 October 2007

A report from the IRC of South Australia says the Work Choices legislation has not lifted productivity but has disadvantaged workers.

Inquiry into the Impact of Work Choices in SA

30 October 2007

Federal Court judge Justice Catherine Branson fines the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations $30 000 for breaching the rights of employees under the Workplace Relations Act to use their personal leave to attend an anti-Work Choices rally.

Workplace Department fined for law breach

30 October 2007

The Sydney Inner City Legal Service published a report which found women were being more discriminated against under Work Choices. The report was based on more than 200 cases that had come into community legal centres in NSW since Work Choices was introduced.

In the land of unequal opportunity

2 November 2007 (date reported)

The Report on the Operation of Work Choices legislation in Tasmania is tabled by the Select Committee in Tasmania s House of Assembly which finds the loss of termination of employment remedies have negatively impacted employees. This report was criticised by Senator Guy Barnett.

Report on the operation of Work Choices Legislation in Tasmania

Barnett attacks jobs report

5 November 2007

The Victorian Workplace Rights Advocate releases a commissioned report which shows that bargaining power has shifted to employers through take-it-or-leave-it AWAs, the use of employer greenfield agreements and withholding pay rises until AWAs are signed.

Agreement-making under Work Choices

5 November 2007

Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey vowed to resign as minister if substantial changes were made to the Work Choices laws if the Coalition were returned to government.

Hockey puts job on line over IR

6 November 2007

The Government refuses to release research into the economic benefits of its industrial relations system and the possible cost of the ALP s IR policy.

Hockey coy on Work Choices ahead of rates decision

7 November 2007

The Reserve Bank increased the cash rate by 0.25%. Prime Minister Howard claimed that the restraint of labour cost growth was a big tick for the Coalition s industrial relations policy.

Business backs PM over rates

8 November 2007

The ABS October 2007 job figures show a net gain of 12,900 jobs. The number of jobs created since the advent of the Work Choices laws in March 2006 totals 439,000.

Editorial: Labor s missing jobs opportunity

8 November 2007

The Coalition announces its workplace relations policy allowing 12 months grandparent leave and the chance for workers to double their holidays by taking them at half pay while toughening right of entry provisions in the construction industry.

9 November 2007

Associate Professor Marian Baird told the Victorian Premier s women s summit that Work Choices missed an opportunity to support women in the workplace.

Work Choices let-down

9 November 2007

The Workplace Authority released agreement data showing that 140,000 of 180,000 agreements submitted since July had not been processed. 12,000 agreements passed the fairness test, 13,000 didn't need to undergo it and 1800 agreements failed.

Workplace Agreement Data, October 2007

12 November 2007

Labour market economist Professor Mark Wooden states that the advantage of AWAs evaporated with the introduction of the Fairness Test

Fairness Test killed AWAs

15 November 2007

The ABC s 7:30 Report reports the Health Minister Tony Abbott suggesting to a meeting that the best protection for workers would be to get another job and, that certain protections on jobs were largely gone and that the AIRC had lost the power to reach into businesses.

Abbot backs himself on employment protections

17 November 2007 (date of article)

ACTU president Sharan Burrow says that figures published by the ABS show full-time women workers on full-time awards are worse off than those on collective agreements.

In the land of unequal opportunity

19 November 2007

The Government refused FOI requests for documents outlining plans in 2005 for further changes to the workplace relations.

Ruling keeps lid on the secret thinking behind IR future

20 November 2007

An anti-Work Choices petition with 90 000 signatures is presented to the Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd.

IR agenda not that unpopular

20 November 2007

Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce indicates support for the ALP s IR reforms if successful at the November 24 election.

ALP to hold firm on IR law

21 November 2007

The release of several Employment and related portfolio annual reports, cited as containing embarrassing information for the Government, is revealed as being delayed until after the federal election.

Hockey holds on to sensitive data

24 November 2007

The Coalition Government loses the 2007 federal election. The Liberal Party s federal director Brian Loughnane recognises significant concern in the electorate over Work Choices, while other Coalition members point to an Its Time factor. PM Howard also loses his seat of Bennelong, the second serving Prime Minister to do so since Prime Minister Stanley Bruce in 1929. Work Choices is likely reside in the architecture of any subsequent Australian labour law.

Work Choices weighs in as biggest loser

Knives out as Liberals agonise over slaughter

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