Former WA under treasurer to lead government’s industrial relations working groups

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday June 3, 2020

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A former West Australian under treasurer has been appointed deputy chair of the federal government’s five industrial relations working groups.

Tim Marney will help lead the government’s effort to create jobs as part of its response to the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, attorney-general Christian Porter said on Wednesday.

The appointment was announced shortly after Porter held an industrial relations reform roundtable in Sydney, to map out the consultative process.

Tim Marney

Marney held public service roles for almost three decades under both Labor and Liberal governments.

Currently a principal at Nous Group and chair of the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Marney was WA’s under treasurer from 2004 until 2014. After that, he was appointed as the state’s mental health commissioner, and served on the board of Beyond Blue for more than a decade.

Porter described Marney as a “highly respected economist and problem solver”.

“Having worked closely with Tim during my time as WA treasurer, his skillset and ability to bridge the political divide makes him the ideal choice to facilitate negotiations between employers and unions to get Australian working again,” he said.

“Like me, Tim also understands the urgency of this task and the need for all sides to put old animosities aside and work together like never before to deliver fair and workable solutions to the problems that threaten to hold back our economic recovery.”


Read more: PM flags skills and industrial relations reform to rebuild post-pandemic economy


Announced late last month, the working groups would aim to address “known problems” within Australia’s industrial relations system.

Porter, who will chair the working groups, said Wednesday’s roundtable went well.

“Today’s roundtable agreed that jobs needed to be everyone’s central focus as we move into the COVID-19 recovery phase, whilst remaining conscious of the continuing health challenges posed by the virus,” he said.

“The significance of this particular process is that all participants have agreed that Australia, like almost every country in the world, is facing a challenge that nobody could have foreseen just a few short months ago and that it essential that we all work intensively together to ensure Australia comes out of the COVID-19 crisis as strongly as possible with as many people as possible in work.”

Attendees received an economic briefing from the Department of the Treasury, and heard from other government officials about the scale of the “sector by sector” challenges regarding jobs creation and the economy.

Porter said all participants agreed to work consultatively on the five working group topics, which include casuals and fixed term employees; award simplification; enterprise agreement making; compliance and enforcement; and Greenfields agreements for new enterprises.

Membership of the working groups — each with 15 people — would be finalised over coming days with the groups likely to commence meetings in coming weeks.

They would be supported by a secretariat including senior officials from Treasury and Finance, who would assist the committees with costs estimates.

While the working groups have been scheduled to run until September, the prime minister has asked for outcomes to “ensure that any reforms can be implemented as soon as is practicable”, Porter said.

The process would involve committee members reaching a consensus around policy proposals that the government can then put into action, either by way of legislation, regulation, or via the budgetary process in October.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus and president Michele O’Neil would lead the union delegation, while employers and industry would be represented by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Ai Group, the Business Council of Australia, Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA), the Chamber of Minerals and Energy (WA) and Master Builders Australia.

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