Kevin Rudd has announced that his party would, if elected, replace the Australian Industrial Relations Commission with Fair Work Australia, a one-stop IR shop.
There’s substance to this change, the ALP would have us know, but it’s also a nice attempt to make industrial relations smell sweeter.
As the current government has shown, everything that moves is ripe for rebranding — politicisation by another word — and if ever a man was in control of his brand, it is John Howard.
Take the now Department of Immigration and Citizenship, formerly the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA), formerly the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA).
In January, Howard decided that multiculturalism was old hat, hence the name lift. “I think the title of the new department expresses the desire and the aspiration, and that is that people who come to this country, who emigrate, immigrants, become Australians,” said Howard.
The change almost took a quick right-turn into farce until the government reassured Australians that the department’s acronym would not be DIC but DIAC (not before Crikey had had its fun however).
The government has also started naming bills in a chattier, more American style.
There was the Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (More Jobs, Better Pay) Bill in 1999 which took up the Coalition’s More Jobs, Better Pay election manifesto.
Since then, there’s been Workplace Relations Amendment (Better Bargaining) Bill 2005, Migration Amendment (Border Integrity) Bill 2006, Workplace Relations (Restoring Family Work Balance) Amendment Bill 2007 and Qantas Sale (Keep Jetstar Australian) Amendment Bill 2007.
Previously, bill names were more sedate — eg. Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill 1905, Migration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1980 and Immigration (Unauthorised Arrivals) Amendment Bill 1980. If they had a shorthand form, it was pragmatic. Most did not, as a glance through the Commonwealth bills history reveals.
The federal Government will unleash an advertising storm likely to cost more than $120 million over the next four to six months, reports The Australian today.
But some of the best self-promotion is free.