7 May 2021
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Need savings Joe? Axe the Fair Work shambles

It seems to me that Joe Hockey’s missed a trick by leaving our shambolic Fair Work system untouched.

Need savings Joe? Axe the Fair Work shambles

David Bates
15 May 2014

by David Bates

All the talk this week is, unsurprisingly, about the spending cuts announced in the Coalition’s first budget in 7 years. But it seems to me that Joe Hockey’s missed a trick by leaving our shambolic Fair Work system untouched.

Just think about the savings that could be made if he revisited the list of almost 50 dedicated Fair Work Commissioners who preside over the much criticised tribunal. While the members themselves may be competent and non-partisan, the system of laws they enforce are neither.

I know, I know…if we reduce the number of Commissioners, how will we deal with the backlog of cases? Well how about we start changing the laws so that small business employers have the same protections from shoddy employees that employees seem to have against hard-working employers? That would lead to an immediate reduction in cases and massive savings for the tax-payer.

While we’re at it, we could repeal the ‘bullying’ jurisdiction that largely duplicates the work of competent state and territory health and safety agencies, and which currently costs the tax payer an extra 4 to 5 million dollars a year to enforce via the Commission.

Or how about just revisiting the pay and perks offered to Fair Work Commissioners? I manage to fly economy most of the time and so far I haven’t suffered any life-threatening illnesses or injuries as a result. And economy is usually around a quarter of the price of business class tickets. It’s just a suggestion.

Or what if we just didn’t let vexatious or frivolous claims get to the Commission in the first place? Now there’s an idea! Let’s ensure that employers who’ve correctly used the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code and Checklist don’t have to waste their – and the Commission’s– time by taking part in pointless conciliation conferences and arbitration hearings that the Code was specifically designed to avoid.

My message to Joe the Treasurer is simple: you’ll save the nation millions and dramatically improve productivity by freeing small businesses from the hopeless burden of the Fair Work laws and from the clutches of the Fair Work Commission.

The above suggestions tick all the Coalition’s boxes: small government, tick. Less regulation, tick. Free enterprise, tick. Fairness, tick.

What a shame taking the axe to the Fair Work laws didn’t feature more prominently in this Treasurer’s first budget.

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