Australia’s Industrial Relations Singularity


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This chapter deals with the perhaps most distinguishing feature of Australian exceptionalism: while Australia’s has an open, market-based, service-orientated economy, its industrial relations system remains an historical anachronism. For all that, support for the system is entrenched in the Australian psyche, and attempts at its reform have proved to be highly hazardous politically. This chapter traces the origins of the current system to ‘compulsory arbitration’ instituted in the first decade of the twentieth century. It argues that while the system was considerably relaxed between 1987 and 2007 it has since been significantly reregulated. It explores the implications of the enduring approach to industrial relations with respect to important issues facing the labour market, and contrasts it with the systems found in the UK, the USA, New Zealand, France, Germany, and Japan.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOnly in Australia
Subtitle of host publicationThe History, Politics, and Economics of Australian Exceptionalism
EditorsWilliam Coleman
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780198753254
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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