The reporting over the past week on the penalty rates case has been fascinating to say the least. In many ways, it has illustrated how deeply Australian’s misconceptions have been about the issue, but more importantly, how easy it has been for those with a vested interest to heighten those misconceptions to erode the country’s respect for the very institutions tasked with making sensible, agenda-free decisions based on fact, not fear.
The Federal Court dismissed a case brought by United Voice and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, trying to overrule the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC’s) independent decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates across five awards, bringing them more into line with Saturday’s.
The win, a result of a combined effort from employer associations including the NRA, shows that despite populist politicking and fear-based language, with unity and a measured approach, sensible outcomes can still prevail.
The NRA is proud to have defended members’ interests with such success, and to have fought for the preservation and sustainability of the entire sector in the lead-up to, and during, the three-day hearing in Melbourne last month.
A full bench of five Federal Court judges – whose entire purpose is to remain independent of political parties’ agendas, unions’ agendas, and anyone else’s agendas for that matter, ruled there was no error by the independent umpire.
Remembering of course that the same political party now continuing to maintain that it will throw out the decision if elected, established the independent umpire in the first place in to ensure no political interest could interfere with its decision-making.
And now, following on from the Federal Court’s ruling, it’s vowing to overrule both the independent umpire, and the Federal Court of Australia.
Given the speed and commitment required to convene a full bench of five Federal Court judges for a full three-day hearing period, and that they were able to reach this conclusion in an almost unheard-of 13 day deliberation period (these kinds of judgements could usually be expected to take two years or so), we believe it’s clear the time has come for political interests to subside, so employers can get on with the job of contributing to the Australian economy and creating jobs for Australian workers.
We must reinstate the country’s respect for the independence of the Fair Work Commission, and reinstate respect for the independence and authority of Australia’s judicial system.
Have a great week.
Dominique Lamb, CEO