LNP accused of stacking FWC
Labor has accused the Federal Government of “stacking” the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
Industrial relations minister Kelly O’Dwyer has announced six new deputy presidents of the Fair Work Commission and one new commissioner.
Labor leader Bill Shorten says the LNP government has now appointed 20 people in a row from employer associations.
The FWC is tasked with setting the minimum wage, penalty rates, dealing with bargaining disputes and deciding cases of unfair dismissal, among other duties.
Unions frequently accuse unfriendly governments of stacking the commission.
Four new deputy presidents have worked directly for employer associations, including Amanda Mansini, from the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), and Gerard Boyce, a barrister who has worked for both AMMA and the National Electrical and Contractors Association.
Bryce Cross is a barrister from the Chamber of Manufactures of NSW, while the government has also promoted Nicholas Lake - a senior manager at BHP Billiton, ExxonMobil, ANZ and Philip Morris.
Fair Work Commission deputy presidents receive about $460,000 a year.
Reports say Fair Work Commission president Iain Ross recommended just a single new appointment, but Ms O’Dwyer made seven appointments under pressure to give the commission extra resources.
Mr Shorten says the Federal Government is in a panic to make appointments before the 2019 federal election.
“They’ve actually appointed to this independent umpire 20 people in a row with employer backgrounds,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“They are tainting the commission, they are stacking it with mates.
“I don’t think that there was a big jobs vacancy for deputy presidents of the Fair Work Commission.”
Ms O’Dwyer said the appointments were necessary for “the ability to approve pay increases and better working conditions more quickly for Australian workers”.
“This group of appointees is highly qualified and well regarded in their respective professions,” she said.
“I am confident the appointees will bring comprehensive expertise and valuable skills to the Fair Work Commission.”
Mr Shorten angered several employer groups in 2016, when as workplace minister he effectively demoted senior tribunal members. The AMMA accused Mr Shorten of tribunal-stacking at the time.