Industrial Relations Under a Conservative Government: The Coalition's Labour Law Programme 1975 to 1978

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In just three years following the election of the Liberal-National Country Party Coalition Government, Australian industrial law underwent considerable transformation, including extensive amendments to the Conciliation and Arbi tration Act and further legislative changes introduced by commonwealth and state parliaments. These developments marked a shift towards the principle of industrial enforcement. In the 1960s and early 1970s a pattern of industrial relations developed which tended to play down the centralising role of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.1Those developments have to some extent been legislatively repudiated, though how far this will effect the long term evolution of industrial relations remains to be seen. The purpose of this article is to provide an outline of recent changes in labour law and to make some comment on their likely impact upon industrial relations. The analysis concentrates on the amendments made to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in the two key Bills of 1977.2The central feature of the new legislation, the Industrial Relations Bureau (IRB) is taken as a starting point for an examination of the changes in four basic areas of industrial law: the enforcement of the legis lation and awards made thereunder; the protection of individual rights; control of internal trade union affairs; and the penal provisions against strikes. The con clusion is that the industrial legislation has served to bolster the Government's political campaign against the union movement and to direct public attention away from the real problem—the economic crisis. © 1979, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-465
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1979

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