Labor returning to IR ‘dark ages’

John Howard claims that “Labor [is] returning to IR ‘dark ages’“, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 7, 2004

“The Prime Minister, John Howard, has slammed Labor’s workplace relations plan as antiquated and irrelevant, warning of a return to the regulatory dark ages should the Opposition win government.

But the Opposition workplace relations spokesman, Craig Emerson, said Labor was proposing a federal system similar to that now operating in NSW and Queensland, two of the strongest performing states.”

Later in the same article: 

“Housing Industry Association national executive director for legal services Scott Lambert said Labor’s plan to abolish the building industry taskforce would increase the power of building unions, reduce productivity and increase costs.”

I hate to agree with such an annoying and colourless man as John Howard. BUT a return to the old style collective bargaining model is anti-productivity, anti-competition and just plain stupid.

To say that we should do this because New South Wales and Queensland both do so is an irrelevency. In fact, Queensland is about to descend into electrical power problems with it’s state owned power suppliers in the very near future, and New South Wales is about to descend into industrial anarchy resembling the 1970’s. The rail staffing problems are merely a harbinger of future union problems for NSW.

Business in NSW is performing strongly for a number of reasons, none of which is related to the industrial relations system, which consistently hamstrings business. The industrial relations system in NSW, especially with regards to the unfair dismissal legislation is particularly difficult for business large and small. It is definitely a dis-incentive to hire permanent staff, becuase if you choose the wrong person it is almost impossible to get rid of them. This only adds to the problem of casualisation of the workforce – which Labor & the Australian Council of Trades Unions have been bleating about for ages. Have they stopped to think that it is their shortsighted policies that are exacerbating this problem?

The answer to this is not more regulation. The answer is to make it easier for people to hire the right person and to be able to remove staff who have not worked out for one reason or another.

PS: My personal political viewpoint is of the ‘a plague on all of your houses’ variety