Home > Fair Work Commission has too much power, says former deputy president

Fair Work Commission has too much power, says former deputy president

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The power to set awards and minimum wages should be given to the Parliament, according to the recently-retired former deputy president of the Fair Work Commission.

The AFR reports that Brendan McCarthy, who worked for the Fair Work Commission for 13 years and was appointed by the Howard government, said in a submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry into workplace relations that minimum employment standards should be taken away from the Commission.

"[The Commission] does not, in my view, have a competence, and certainly not a core one, of understanding the workings of the economy, or of economics generally or on how enterprises work,” he said in the submission.

He said this was because most of them are from legal, public administration, union or employer organisation backgrounds.

"My suggestion is that awards should be given a status of employment regulations for specific industries," he added, according to the AFR.

"A proposed award should be tabled in parliament and subject to approval or not by the Parliament. Such a process would have the effect of both making the body giving the recommendation more accountable and, secondly, providing open and transparent access and influence for the whole community.

"It would also enable the parliament to take into consideration the other implications of approving the award regulation, such as impacts on the welfare system or impacts on rebates or subsidies for training and apprenticeships."

Last month, Employment Minister Eric Abetz disappointed many employers when he said the government will not seek to change penalty rates or the minimum wage, even if the Productivity Commission’s inquiry makes such recommendations.

He said the government intends to retain the current system and added he was surprised when the Productivity Commission said the review would look at the minimum wage and penalty rates.

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