Martin Ferguson Calls For Further Industrial Relations Reform; Urges Union Rethink

Martin Ferguson, the former resources minister in the Rudd and Gillard governments, says the Abbott government needs to go further than its “modest” reforms to the Fair Work Act.

In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Ferguson, now the chairman of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, says the current industrial relations system is sending jobs offshore. “We must get serious about closing the competitive gap that has opened up between Australia and our rivals,” he said.

Ferguson

The Fair Work Act was the creation of the Rudd government in 2009. The legislation was introduced by the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard.

In his speech, Ferguson says: “The objectives of the Fair Work Act need to be examined to make sure they truly reflect the need for Australia to be internationally competitive.”

He added: “It is time that some in today’s union leadership recognised that their members’ long-term interests are aligned with their long-term job security.”

Three weeks after leaving Parliament at last year’s election, Ferguson was appointed Chairman of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association. Critics of his comments today describe him as an oil and gas industry lobbyist.

On its website, the association says: “The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association is the peak national body representing Australia’s oil and gas exploration and production industry. It has more than 80 full member companies. These are oil and gas explorers and producers active in Australia. APPEA members account for an estimated 98 per cent of the nation’s petroleum production. APPEA also represents more than 250 associate member companies that provide a wide range of goods and services to the upstream oil and gas industry.”

Prior to being elected to parliament in 1996, Ferguson spent his early working life as an official of the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union. He was President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions between 1990-96. He served in the Rudd and Gillard cabinets as Minister for Resources and Energy from 2007 until his resignation in March last year at the time of the stillborn challenge to Julia Gillard’s leadership.

Text of Martin Ferguson’s speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

Competitiveness of the Australian gas industry

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you.

Today, I will discuss the Australian oil & gas industry and our national economy.

I will outline the industry’s widely underestimated contribution to our national prosperity and how in coming years it can contribute even more to our economic security. [Read more…]


Eric Abetz: Industrial Relations After The Thirty Years War

The Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz, has delivered a major speech on industrial relations to The Sydney Institute.

The speech came on the day allegations of bribery and corruption in the construction industry reignited the debate over unions and workplace regulation. [Read more…]


Kathy Jackson’s Speech To The HR Nicholls Society

Kathy Jackson, national secretary of the Health Services Union, has addressed the H.R. Nicholls Society in Melbourne.

Jackson has been criticised by other unionists for her decision to speak to the organisation generally regarded as anti-union and once described by Prime Minister Bob Hawke as a group of “political troglodytes and economic lunatics”.

Transcript of Kathy Jackson’s speech to the H.R. Nicholls Society.

Kathy JacksonI have been attacked for agreeing to speak to you tonight because you are seen as the enemies of trade unionism.

I speak in my personal capacity tonight, not as an official of the HSU.

I happen to think that dialogue is important. Including with those with whom I disagree on matters that are important to me.

I am sure that there are very great differences that will be remain between how I see the world and how some of you see it.

I think it better that we have a dialogue about those differences rather than to simply call each other names.

I am sure that, at the end of the day, much of what separates us comes down to matters of deep philosophical outlook, not to mention fundamental differences about matters of economics and how the greatest good can be achieved in society. [Read more…]


Pipeline Or Pipe Dream: Business Council Report Warns Of Risks To Investment

The Business Council of Australia has issued a report that says high costs and low productivity put at risk Australia’s pipeline of investment.

Text of news release from the Business Council of Australia.

Pipeline or Pipe Dream? New Research Uncovers What’s at Stake If We Don’t Get It Right on Major Projects

High costs and low productivity are risking Australia’s unprecedented $921 billion pipeline of investment in resources, energy and economic infrastructure, new research for the Business Council of Australia has found.

In a landmark study released ahead of next week’s economic forum in Brisbane, the BCA has for the first time provided a total picture of how capital investment is driving the economy. [Read more…]


Day 3: Oh My God, They Killed WorkChoices!

“It’s worth it just for the cartoon of her nose,” the man in my local newsagency told me as I purchased the Financial Review yesterday. Like all the newspapers, the Fin had a special election supplement. Its frontpage cartoon by the incomparable David Rowe also contained a jug-eared Tony Abbott but the retailer seemed more agitated by Julia Gillard.

It was a small, perhaps meaningless, moment but it affirmed for me that Gillard is especially crucial to this election. Everyone is talking about her. [Read more…]


“Partially Treated Sewage Sandwich” From Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop, Deputy Leader of the Liberal PartyThe Federal Opposition’s Julie Bishop has given an extraordinary press conference in which she attempted to justify the coalition’s decision not to to oppose the government’s legislation abolishing WorkChoices.

  • Listen to Julie Bishop’s press conference (25m)

As the Sydney Morning Herald’s Annabel Crabb put it on February 20: [Read more…]


Rudd And Gillard Announce Industrial Relations Policy

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd and Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Julia Gillard have held a press conference.

Rudd said that the Howard government’s WorkChoices had gone too far and would be replaced with an industrial relations system that embraced four elements.

The first element would be fairness, including the abolition of Australian Workplace Agreements. The second elements would be flexibility, whilst the third would be to provided sensible transition arrangements to the new system. The fourth element would be proper protections for business against unlawful industrial action. [Read more…]