Work Choices and the Radical Revision of the Public Realm of Australian Statutory Labour Law

Posted: 4 Apr 2008

Date Written: December 2006

Abstract

Australia's statutory labour law has undergone very significant amendment following the enactment of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005 (the Work Choices Act). This article argues that the new law radically revises the public realm of labour law established through the century-old system of conciliation and arbitration. The Act seeks to strip back the influence of trade unions and the traditional regulator, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. It generates a realm of private employer power, augmented where necessary with direct intervention by Executive government to ensure that the old system does not re-emerge. The Work Choices Act is remarkable in its use of statutory language to obscure and defer meaning. The processes of its making were also marked by a reluctance of the government to explain or even acknowledge the import of the law. It is tentatively concluded that the Act is a product of the mix of ideological, pragmatic and psychological motivations underlying its creation.

Suggested Citation

Murray, Jillian G., Work Choices and the Radical Revision of the Public Realm of Australian Statutory Labour Law (December 2006). Industrial Law Journal, Vol. 35, Issue 4, pp. 343-366, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1116435 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/indlaw/dwl027

Jillian G. Murray (Contact Author)

La Trobe Law School ( email )

La Trobe University
Bundoora, VIC 3083 3142
Australia

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