The Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005 changes the architecture of labour market regulation in Australia in a significant way. The focus of this article is on changes to the regulatory framework for minimum wage determination and the rationale for, and likely consequences of, conferring this power on the Australian Fair Pay Commission. Underpinning the Work Choices package is the view that Safety Net wage rises awarded by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission have had negative effects on employment. In this article we establish that the evidence to support this claim is weak, and is being used to engineer a historic shift in the objectives of the Australian wage setting process. We argue that the new legislation will act as a downward drag on the pay and conditions of minimum wage workers and advance an alternative policy approach in which attaining full employment does not require us to abandon the principle of fairness or a decent wage floor.
Journal of Industrial Relations Vol. 49, Issue 5, p. 741-756