The Rudd Government’s 2009 overhaul of Australia’s industrial relations regime represented a substantial reversal of almost two decades of reform. Australia’s trajectory towards decentralised wage-setting directly between employers and employees was arrested in favour of a system with government and trade unions at its core.
The reregulation of the labour market by the Fair Work regime (‘Fair Work’) has not only come at a cost to businesses and the economy as a whole, but to workers and, more importantly, the unemployed.
This paper will examine the ways in which Fair Work has deprived many Australians of the dignity of work. In particular, it will critique the way in which Fair Work interfered with the right to work by:
1. reducing labour market flexibility and restricting the right to work;
2. imposing economic barriers that have effectively priced many Australians out of the labour market; and
3. creating structural disincentives for employers to hire.