This Ai Group research paper looks at the performance of the Australian labour market
with a particular focus on the most recent decades.
The context for this research is the federal Government’s partially complete program
of significant changes to Australia’s industrial relations framework.
The Government and/or its supporters argue these changes are necessary to address
a worsening of employee bargaining power; heightened exploitation; a declining share
of wages in national incomes and falling real wages. They suggest that Australia’s
labour market has failed workers and needs a substantial fix.
This paper examines the performance of Australia’s labour market to inform an
assessment of whether the Government’s program of industrial relations changes is
appropriately targeted; whether it has correctly identified genuine weaknesses and
strengths; and whether it will put Australia in a better position to meet what the
Government itself acknowledges are very substantial challenges.