Crikey Says

Jan 29, 2014

Crikey says: no facts, just ideology, from Abetz

Another IPA appointee to Tony Abbott's renewables review? Bernard Keane on the Peter Cosgrove pick. Kevin 07 becomes Jay4SA in South Australia. Fifty years after Dr Strangelove, the stockpiles that are left. Retailers stealing your data. A big night for poetry. And Guy Rundle remembers Pete Seeger.

Myths die hard when it comes to industrial relations. When the previous government introduced the Fair Work Act, then-opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull predicted it would destroy jobs. Around 670,000 jobs have been created, in net terms, since then. Business and the conservative commentariat have insisted for two years that the Fair Work Act has reduced labour productivity, despite growth in labour productivity data every quarter -- and despite how labour productivity fell under WorkChoices (nor do they point out that productivity growth was very strong under the heavily regulated IR system of the 1970s). They've claimed the Fair Work Act caused a surge in industrial disputes, when the average level of industrial disputation in 2013 was below even that achieved in the WorkChoices era. They've also insisted the Fair Work Act would cause a union-led wages breakout -- but it's now solidly linked to moderate, and even low, wages growth, especially in non-resources industries where mining companies aren't bidding against each other for labour to build new projects. In the September 2013 quarter, private sector wages growth was the second-lowest figure ever recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Just yesterday, the NAB stated that "labour costs growth has held steady at restrained levels". Enter Employment Minister Eric Abetz, addressing the Sydney Institute last night, and paying homage to Gerard Henderson, who coined the term "industrial relations club" in the 1980s. After a long period of IR reform, Abetz argued, we're now back to the days of an IR club. He urged unions and employers to understand that pay rises cost jobs and that they should take responsibility for the cost of their deals. He also declared he was intervening on the side of Toyota in its dispute with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union over reducing conditions in its operations. Abetz's speech is long on anecdotes and short -- extremely short -- on hard data. You'll search it in vain for reference to the actual statistics about the impact of the Fair Work Act on jobs growth, productivity, industrial disputes and labour costs. That's because the evidence is that, at every turn, the Fair Work Act has failed to produce the outcomes predicted or claimed by its critics. Abetz says he wants to direct IR debate back to the "sensible centre". Maybe he could start with facts rather than ideology.

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9 thoughts on “Crikey says: no facts, just ideology, from Abetz

  1. klewso

    Did Godwin Grech, or anyone from Limited News, get to contribute to this Abetz effort too?

  2. klewso

    His and his sponsor’s “sensible centre”…..?
    “Go-go Gadget Arms”?

  3. zut alors

    The government to which Abetz belongs does not value facts or evidence of which system may work best.

    Earlier today Abbott was on Ray Hadley’s radio programme griping about the ABC’s Fact Check unit. He wants straight reporting instead. We can interpret that to mean the ABC should report, verbatim, press releases from LNP ministers’ offices but not waste time checking any information or researching the subject.

  4. Electric Lardyland

    You’d think that if Eric Abetz was preaching wage restraint, then he himself might be practising restraint in things like expenses claims, wouldn’t you? Well, here’s his expenses for the previous financial year.

    July 1 – Dec 31 2012 Eric Abetz
    Travel Allowance $26,244.00
    Overseas Travel $12,686.86
    Domestic Fares $31,943.42
    Chartered $0.00
    Car Costs $29,129.80
    Office Facilities $72,793.60
    Office Fitouts $0.00
    Office Administration $22,323.71
    Telecommunications $10,089.98
    Family $10,224.42

    Jan 1 – Jun 30 2013 Eric Abetz
    Travel Allowance $21,088.00
    Overseas Travel $8,099.55
    Domestic Fares $41,598.62
    Chartered $1,727.27
    Car Costs $34,329.63
    Office Facilities $59,376.21
    Office Fitouts $0.00
    Office Administration $40,706.50
    Telecommunications $8,146.79
    Family $4,465.02

    Sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking, when I said that you’d expect him to be showing restraint.

  5. MD

    “Abetz says he wants to direct IR debate back to the “sensible centre”. Maybe he could start with facts rather than ideology.”

    Mwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Eric Abetz? He doesn’t even believe that facts exist.

  6. AR

    What a strange idea that Erica Best might be susceptible to reality, facts or rationality. The strange mechanical vocal delivery makes ole “40 miles of bad road” Ian (Elginsic!!)McFarlane sound like the Music of the Spheres.

  7. klewso

    But he does – his and “The Right’s facts” – he’s mixing up and passing of his opinion as his facts again.
    He did that during Utegate.

  8. klewso

    Jokes aside, you have to admire the auspiciousness of the timing of this don’t you?
    After 6 years of Labor, during which about the biggest scandal in the building industry was Leightons : now, not even 6 months into this conservative Limited News Party government of Abbott-Andrews-Abetz (with his Greched connections), with traces of Workchoices in their stools, this falls from the Tree of Happy Coincidences into their lap?

  9. ewaterford

    Brilliant journalism

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