Federal Election - Work and wages



Tomorrow is the big day! Last week we looked at the different health promises of the two parties, which you can find here.

This week we look at Industrial Relations.

Most ASMOF NSW members are not directly affected by the changes that occur at the Federal level. However the Federal industrial relation environment often has an indirect affect on the states, which would affect most members.

As you might expect the two major parties have very different plans for reform in Industrial Relations. Whilst both parties have acknowledged sluggish wage growth, they have different ideas of how it will be fixed.


The Coalition are steering clear of changes workplace laws- it’s backfired for them before. They are instead focusing on pushing their message of job creation, a stronger economy, and tax cuts.

We are not going to see any changes to industrial relations legislation or restrictions on industrial action under a Coalition Government. The Coalition are once again warning of giving too much power to Unions, with Scott Morrison stating that:

‘This election is very much about not allowing the Labor Party to basically give militant unions of this country a blank cheque and unhindered interference in the Australian economy.’


Labor is pushing a more ambitious reform agenda, aiming to stop widening inequality which is having broad societal and economic impacts.

Bill Shorten has stated that Labor will lift wages through a range of measures, including the introduction of a ‘living wage’ rather than a minimum wage, and changes to legislation which govern how we bargain.

Australia currently has strict laws around taking industrial action. Labor will seek changes to this regime which will likely give more bargaining power to employees. Greater access to multi-employer bargaining, which sees greater standardisation of wages and conditions across comparable roles, is also on the table.

Labor have also made an explicit commitment to address gender inequality, pledging $400 million towards closing the gender superannuation gap, and prioritising gender equity in the Fair Work Act and Fair Work Commission.

Some other potential changes to legislation

  • include a right of review for employees if a request for flexible working arrangements is unreasonably refused by their employer.
  • greater access to paid parental leave plus superannuation through a combination of government and employer contributions.
  • changes to try to combat the rise of insecure work.