The future of Australian OHS legislation relies on tripatism, discussion and, hopefully, consensus. In early December 2009, the most recent Liberal Party leader, Tony Abbott, appointed Eric Abetz to the opposition portfolio of workplace relations. According to a media statement released on 8 December 2009,
“Employment is a vital social and economic portfolio area. Balancing the competing interests to ensure maximum employment levels with acceptable working conditions, is always the challenge”.
“The Coalition fully accepts the verdict of the Australian people at the last election that WorkChoices is dead. However, in defeating WorkChoices, the Australian people did not vote to reinstate the extremism of some in the Union movement”.
“Labor has deliberately strengthened the hand of Trade Union officials as a clear payback for bank rolling Labor’s election campaign”.
Yes, Abetz and the Liberal Party are not in power at the moment and the political pundits say this may not occur for some years. But the hard attitude toward the union movement is not likely to help the development of OHS legislative reforms whether in power or opposition.