DEBATE OVER the current impact and future application of WorkChoices will be thoroughly aired in Sydney in two weeks, with experts and industry heavyweights battling it out before members of the legal profession and some of Australia’s top organisations.
A joint effort of the Australian Institute of Employment Rights (AIER) and Harmers Workplace Lawyers, the formal debate will mark the launch of the AIER as an independent body formed by professionals engaged as employers and their representatives, labour rights advocates, unions, academics and industrial relations practitioners.
With an introduction by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, and mediated by journalist Jana Wendt, the debate will pit government ministers and industry figureheads against one another, to be followed by a panel discussion.
Joe Hockey MP, Minister Assisting the Minister for Workplace Relations, will argue against Stephen Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure & Industrial Relations (IR).
Another Stephen Smith, national IR director of the Australian Industry Group, will enter the fray with Sharan Burrow, current president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).
Following them, Mark Goodsell, NSW director of the Australian Industry Group, will trade words with John Robertson, secretary of Unions NSW.
The aim of the newly formed AIER is to generate balanced discussion of workplace issues during the present period of Australian Workplace reform.
“We support the aims of the AIER in encouraging balanced discussion of workplace rights at a vital time in the history of Australian workplace relations,” Michael Harmer, chairman and senior team leader of Harmers, said.
“A key aim of Harmers as a firm is the promotion of fairness and justice in the Australian workplace. We act as a firm for major employers and representative organisations,” he said.
“We are interested in the generation of ideas aimed at encouraging a fair go all round in the Australian system of workplace relations.”
The panel will be made up of Professor Ron McCallum, Dean of Law at Sydney University; Associate Professor Paul Gollan from the department of business at Macquarie University; Fiona Hardie, employer vice president of AIER and director of Hardie Grant Publishing; Peter Tighe, national secretary of Communications Electrical Plumbing Union of Australia (CEPU); and Michael Harmer.
The debate will be held on Tuesday, 14 November at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place in Sydney. Registration at www.harmers.com.au/ ftproot/aiernswlaunchinvitation.pdf