A three-man panel released on Thursday its first review of the Fair Work Act. The panel said that despite the criticism by business of the legislation, the act was working as intended and did not decrease competitiveness or caused excessive cost increase.
"After considering the economic aspects of the Fair Work Act the panel concludes that since the Fair Work Act came into force important outcomes such as wages growth, industrial disputation, the responsiveness of wages to supply and demand, the rate of employment growth and the flexibility of work patterns have been favourable to Australia's continuing prosperity," the panel wrote.
The expert panel, made up of Reserve Bank of Australia board member John Edwards, University of Sydney professor Ron McCallum and former Federal Court Judge Michael Moore, did not propose major changes to the Act. However, it recommended 50 options for change, although most of them are technical in nature.
It is the first biannual review for the Act which became fully operational in January 2010. The Act replaced the Coalition's Work Choices regime which was unpopular.
The review backed granting assistance to workers in instances when union stall negotiations for greenfield agreements or new projects before employees are hired and wages and conditions are set. The panel also did not recommend the revival of other Work Choices-era elements such as limits to unfair dismissals and statutory individual contracts.
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten, who released the review, said he will consult on the findings before he would announce changes in about a month.
Coalition Leader Tony Abbott said the results of the review were too predictable because of the panel members' closeness to the Gillard government.
"If the government was fair dinkum about boosting productivity, this review would have been conducted by the Productivity Commission. Instead, it was conducted essentially by the department and naturally, the government reviewing the government has decided that the government doesn't have a problem," The Australian quoted Mr Abbott.
He insisted that Australia has flexibility, militancy and productivity problems.
"We have got to tackle them for the long-term benefit of every Australian worker. A more productive economy will have more jobs. A more productive economy will have higher pay. And that's what I'm on about - more jobs and higher pay for Australian workers," Mr Abbott said.
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