An examination of the australian industrial relations domestic policy issues

Introduction First of all I welcome the delegation to Australia, and we are most appreciative that you have taken the time to come to the ACTU to get a trade union viewpoint on industrial relations and the economy in Australia. All nations in the world have to live with national stereotypes. Some, I must say, are deserved, but some are not.

An examination of the australian industrial relations domestic policy issues

Barrier protection to manufacturing industries, mainly via tariffs, has been reduced from 35 per cent to five per cent inthus moving Australia a long way towards the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation APEC goal of free trade access to developed countries by At first glance, the protection debate appears to have been largely won by trade liberation supporters and to be on the brink of becoming a non-issue.

However, protection remains a controversial issue. There are strong arguments for continuing to treat barrier protection, and the broader aspects of industry policy, as important and dynamic economic policy issues.

Tariffs in Australia, and in most other Western countries, have declined over a two to three decade period. Australia lagged behind most of its trading partners in the early stages of this process but has now caught up and has average tariff levels comparable to those in the United States, European Union and Japan.

With the declining importance of tariffs, it is important that policy makers pay more attention to the alternative tools for achieving industry policy objectives, namely non-tariff barriers, anti-dumping measures and assistance through the Budget sometimes referred to as State aid or Public Support for Industry.

Compared with other Western countries, Australia is an almost negligible user of non-tariff barriers but a major user of anti-dumping measures.

An examination of the australian industrial relations domestic policy issues

Budgetary assistance to manufacturing in Australia peaked in and declined significantly in the next four years. The current level of Budget assistance is equivalent to 2. In the European Union, there was also a distinct downward trend in Budget assistance to manufacturing over recent years.

Another feature of European Union assistance is that over half of it is directed at regional objectives while this accounts for a very minor component of Commonwealth Budget assistance in Australia. This may well change given the renewed interest in rural and regional Australia.


The history of Australia's trade liberalisation shows that it has been a slow and politically sensitive process. It is a process that can easily 'run off the rails' as it did with the massive increase in quota and other protection to the TCF and PMV industries in the late s and early s at a time when the average level of assistance to other manufacturing activities was declining.

While protection continues to provide large benefits to a few industries, these industries, supported by the affected unions and State governments, will continue to resist further liberalisation. The Tariff Board, and its successor bodies, have played an important role in opening protection issues for public scrutiny, for providing well-researched background on the costs and benefits and for persuading the Government to take a more comprehensive less ad hoc approach to industry assistance measures.

The last period of Labor Government, and in particular the Button Plans, demonstrated that major structural change can be facilitated, and supported by the major players, where sufficient effort is made to spell out the rules of the game and to establish closer partnerships between Government and industry.

This was also an era when industry policy was increasingly seen in a broader economic and social context. One reason why the strong move to trade liberalisation in the late s and s was politically acceptable was that it was part of a much wider reform movement to open up the Australian economy and make it internationally competitive.

Industry Policy in Australia – Parliament of Australia

These economic reforms were supported with a strengthening of the safety net to retrain and assist displaced labour. There are several aspects of the current situation which suggest the need for particular sensitivity in handling industry protection issues. One is the narrowing time frame for achieving the APEC goal of free trade by With the freezing of PMV and TCF tariffs tothe window of opportunity for further major adjustments in these industries has been greatly reduced.

At the same time, there has been a re-emergence of protectionist pressures both in Australia and overseas. This forms part of the mounting criticism of the broad approach which Australians commonly term 'rational economic policies' which include smaller government, lower taxes, more open economy, greater domestic competition and a strong emphasis on economic efficiency and cost cutting.

In this climate, the trade liberalisation verses protection debate remains alive and relevant. The Industry Policy in Australia paper examines developments since and speculates as to the future directions of industry policy.

It identifies many uncertainties and continuing debate about the future of industry policy, for example, the steps necessary for Australia to achieve its APEC commitment to free trade byand to shift the policy focus towards the stronger-growth, knowledge-intensive industries.

Workplace Relations in Australia | Department of Jobs and Small Business How Low Should We Go? Major Issues The current industry policy mix has the following characteristics.
Learning Outcomes Most states kept their industrial relations powers over their own public service and agencies. New pay rates, penalties and loadings phased over 4 years until the full modern award rates applied from 1 July

This paper examines how the policy mix has changed over time with an emphasis on identifying the drivers of change and providing a better understanding of the macro-economic, industry, bureaucratic and political forces that led to the major transformation of industry policy in Australia over the past 30 years.

It is hoped that some lessons from the past can help today's policy makers with the policy challenges facing them. The saying 'those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it' 2 appears very relevant to industry protection issues. Three main subjects are covered in the paper: Australia's Experience with Trade Liberalisation History of Tariff Policy The Tariff Board, and its successors the Industries Assistance Commission and the Industry Commission which has now been absorbed into the Productivity Commissionhas been the key institutional force behind the evolution of tariff policy in Australia.perspective and, secondly, to examine a range of labour market and industrial relations issues associated with this migration.

First, we provide an overview of Australian. These employment relations reforms aim to further promote the decentralisation of industrial relations to the workplace level and strengthen direct relationships between the employer and employee.

Arguably this may result in a dramatically reduced role for the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, further erosion of the Award system and. Research Paper 3 Michael Emmery Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Group 21 September Contents.

Major Issues Introduction Overview of the Industry Policy Debate. Treasury, Industrial Relations 4 Premier 4 Appendix 1 Witnesses at hearings 5 The following issues were ra committee’s examination of ised during the these portfolios: Regulatory Policy, Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Mr Peter Dunphy.

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