Workplace reform: a new social contract for Australia

02 June 2021

The COVID-19 crisis impels us to think about the future of Australia in many dimensions and from different perspectives including our social, economic and governance structures. A new social contract at work in Australia should rest on three pillars: a full employment policy coupled with a strong safety net for those not able to find work; a comprehensive system of post-secondary and vocational training, and easy transition between them; industrial relations reforms to provide a stronger voice for workers in decisions affecting them in the workplace. These pillars should be based not only on the historical experience of Australia but also draw on successful examples from elsewhere. The Nordic countries, for example, have based their social and economic systems on a social partnership approach that relies on voluntary cooperation between interest groups rather than legislation.