Fair Choices (2007)


A clear and dispassionate book on industrial relations reform was needed in the Federal election year 2007, with the Howard government's Work Choices legislation causing considerable debate in Australian society. This book was my contribution, at the urging and with the help of an industrial relations lawyer friend. As I remarked in the Preface, it was as clear and simple an explanation as possible as to how to grasp what was going on in that debate and how to negotiate sound work place agreements. Its spirit was one of fostering both the willingness and the skill to negotiate better conditions consistent with gains in productivity and the capacity of businesses to adapt and innovate in a global economy. It was none other than Paul Keating who remarked some years earlier that: ‘For well over a century, Australia has attracted the interest and curiosity of practitioners and theorists of industrial relations. In the great constitutional debates of the 1890s, our founding fathers gave the proposed Commonwealth a power to settle interstate industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration…It was a system which served Australia quite well, I think, but the news I have to deliver today’ to those of our visitors who still think Australian industrial relations is run this way, is that it is finished. Not only is the old system finished, but we are rapidly phasing out its replacement and have now come to do things in a new way.' Writing the book was an education.

Unfortunately, this book is now out of print