Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Harvard Economics/Law Prof Slams WorkChoices

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-10-12

Richard B. Freeman, a Harvard economics professor, has slammed WorkChoices in his VoxEU essay (2007-10-03) "From fair-go to rip-off: Australia’s new labour code".  It will be hard for Joe Hockey to criticize such an author as an ALP or Australian Union hack.

Here are some extracts … bolding is mine.

The new Australian labour code is such a massive break with Western labour traditions that it merits global attention.  It is an extreme change with no economic rationale.  Social scientists would love to see the data the new law generates; it would be a great ‘natural experiment.’  For the sake of Australians, however, it would be great to see the upcoming election put an end to the experiment.

In 2006 on the other side of the world, where kangaroos and platypi dwell, an advanced democracy embarked on the most radical anti-labour policy in modern economic history…  It was enacted in the midst of prosperity, without union or management excesses that endangered the economy, or public support…  Parts of the law made so little economic sense that it seemed as if the Howard government had found a new band of whigged judges and labour lawyers to write it, on behalf of management.  Which, in fact, I learned, was more or less how the law was developed.  Writing the law was outsourced to the major Australian law firms that represented management.

Whoever gets elected this fall should scrap Workchoices and take the opportunity to develop a truly modern labour code.

It’s worth reading its detailed points, and is actually stronger in it’s condemnation of WorkChoices (and by extension, the economic credibility of the Howard regime) than ALP politicians!

Richard Freeman is Professor of Economics at Harvard University, Co-Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School, Program Director of Labor Studies at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics.


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