Amending the Industrial Relations Statute: An Australian Preoccupation
journal contributionposted on 06.06.2017, 02:23 authored by Fox, Carol, Pittard, Marilyn
There is a popular perception that industrial relations as a public policy issue in Australia enjoys a prominence unparalleled in democratic states. The parliament is an important forum for the implementation of public policy. A study of federal parliamentary Bills concerned with industrial relations during the period 1956-1999 has identified 95 Bills linked to the Commonwealth's pnncipal industrial relations statute. The findings include the fact that the high level of parliamentary activity is not the preoccupation of a particular political party. It is, rather, an Australian preoccupation, with the number of Bills introduced by Liberal-National governments and Labor governments being roughly proportional to their respective periods of office. Thirty-three per cent of Bills were either defeated, lapsed or withdrawn although about half the Bills in this category were private members' Bills. The database reveals industrial relations as predominantly a contested area of public policy with less than 30 per cent of Bills being bipartisan and most of these being minor Bills dealing with minor issues. The paper explores areas for further research including the need to examine the relationship between public resources invested in changes in industrial relations legislation and practice outcomes.