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Labour Market Deregulation

Labour Market Deregulation

Rewriting the Rules

Edited by Joe Isaac and Russell D Lansbury


Keith Hancock is honoured and celebrated in this work, following the significant contributions he made not only to academic research and teaching, but also to the practice of industrial relations, through the various roles he held as Professor, Vice-Chancellor, Senior Deputy President of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and author of major government reviews and inquiries.

The workshop held in his honour included a number of commentators. More specifically, the following issues arising from the papers were actively debated:

  • Whether a decentralised and less regulated labour marketing is a necessary condition for meeting the requirements of global competition
  • The effects of labour market deregulation on employment and the nature of employment on income distribution on wage inequality, on productivity, on work stress and on job satisfaction
  • The consequences of labour market deregulation for Australians’ work/care regime
  • The impact of labour market deregulation on trade unions
  • Whether macro-economic, policy has been unduly restrained by the risk of inflation in a deregulated labour market
  • How labour market deregulation has affected industrial relations as a field of study and research, and
  • How the nature of rights and obligations of employers, employees and unions have been affected by the changes in labour market regulation.

Contributors include Keith Hancock, Ron McCallum, Barbara Pocock, Peter Saunders, Ron Callus, Sue Richardson, RG Gregory, Rae Cooper and Willy Brown.


Tribute to Professor Keith Hancock
The Editors
The Deregulation of the Australian Labour Market
Joe Isaac
Industrial Citizenship
Ron McCallum
Commentary: Iain Ross
Labour Market ‘Deregulation’ and Prospects for an Improved Australian Work/Care Regime
Barbara Pocock
Commentary: Marian Baird
Reviewing Recent Trends in Wage Income Inequality in Australia
Peter Saunders
Commentary: Anne Daly
Life in the Old Dog Yet? The Impact of ‘Deregulation’ upon Trade Unions in Australia
Rae Cooper
Commentary: Michael Crosby
The Re-regulation of Australian Industrial Relations: The Role of the Hancock Inquiry
Ron Callus
Commentary: Malcolm Rimmer
Redefining the Field: Work and Employment Relations in an Era of Deregulation
Russell D Lansbury & Grant Michelson
Commentary: Robin Kramar
Are Low Wage Jobs for Life?
Sue Richardson
Wage Determination in the Twentieth Century Australian Economy
Keith Hancock
Third Party Labour Market Intervention in Open Economies
William Brown
Australian Labour Markets, Economic Policy and My Late Life Crisis
R G Gregory



Much of the analysis advocates a regulatory approach …. A statement of the ‘regulationists’ perspective is extremely well laid out in Joe Isaac’s chapter. He correctly points out that much of what passes for de-regulation is more accurately viewed as forms of re-regulation (nowhere is this clearer than in the case of the WorkChoices legislation). Joe Isaac’s contribution is matched by the later chapter by William Brown, which provides a coherent overview of the role of labour market regulation in a cross-national context of globalisation and the diminished capacity of national governments to execute economic policy and sustain a balance between market forces and the maintenance of labour standards. In his view the Australian experiment with arbitration still resonates as a valid means by which this tension can be managed. Barbara Pocock’s chapter too highlights the productive role regulation could play in ameliorating the (growing) conflict between work and family life, while Ron McCallum’s thought-provoking chapter introduces the concept of industrial citizenship as a foundational concept for rethinking labour market regulation.
I found this book to be extremely stimulating. It presents the wide variety of public policy problems we now face in how best to achieve good labour market outcomes which balance efficiency and equity considerations. You will not find the answers but the beginnings of new ideas. For me, the value of the book is in the various challenges that the well-respected chapter authors present us.

Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol 48(4)

This timely book is a tribute to Professor Keith Hancock, arguably Australia’s leading labour economist. … In the face of the AIRC’s demise over the past 20 years, Hancock has been a prominent critic of the ‘deregulation’ mantra based on assumptions of improved economic performance. This book analyses these core issues, critically examining economic and policy concerns in the future of a deregulated labour market. The impact and implications of Australia’s deregulation trajectory are examined in diverse areas. …..
As an edited collection, this book comprises contributions from a group of Australia’s eminent scholars in IR, labour law and economics. The core focus of the book is on Australia but the highly competent and articulate analyses of a wide range of seminal issues, many in an international context, mean the book has obvious international appeal. In the face of continuing regulatory change worldwide, all readers should derive value from the thought-provoking analyses of labour market deregulation that are presented.

Industrial Relations Journal (UK), Vol 38(3), May 2007


Published 28 November 2005
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862875944
Australian RRP $49.50
International Price $45.00
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Industrial Relations / EEO
Law - Industrial & Employment

Workplace Research Centre

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