IR reform needed: Howard

Former Prime Minister John Howard has suggested that individual contracts and unfair dismissal should be examined by Tony Abbott, the federal opposition leader.

In an off-the-record speech to a Westpac Deeper Insights forum, reported by the Australian Financial Review today, Howard told attendees that Abbott should look at measures to change the current Fair Work legislation.                

“There is no reason why this country should not go back to the workplace system we had between 1996 and 2005 where you had individual contracts,” said Howard.  

Aspects of the current IR regime have been criticised by others, such as the Australian Industry Group. The AIG’s analysis of the recent review of Fair Work rejected 24 of its 53 recommendations, and it has called for measures to increase workplace productivity.

“We were against them, totally against them, because they are productivity blockers and that's what we need is to improve our productivity,” Innes Willox, the AIG CEO, told Business Spectator.
 

Industrial relations are a sensitive issue for the opposition, which is comfortably ahead in polls, but whose loss of the 2007 election has been blamed by some on its stance on IR.