Productivity Commission is ill-equipped to review workplace laws, researcher John Buchanan says

The body charged with conducting the federal government's sweeping review of workplace laws has been given too little time and is ill-equipped to do the job properly, a leading workplace researcher has warned.

Professor John Buchanan, director of the Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney, says Australia has developed an international reputation for having an unstable industrial relations environment because of frequent changes to its labour laws.

He has questioned whether the Australian Productivity Commission is properly equipped to conduct another review of workplace laws.

"Labour law expertise is not something they've shown any capacity for in the past,'' Professor Buchanan said.

''There is a role for getting an evidence-based approach to getting an enduring settlement, but expecting a body that is a specialist in microeconomic reform to belt out a report in a shorter time frame than they normally do is not the best way of solving that problem."

The Productivity Commission was given 18 months to review the National Disability Insurance Scheme, but has only 12 months to review workplace laws. "The NDIS was one part of the social security system. But this is a review of the entire regulatory structure which affects every part of the economy,'' Professor Buchanan said.

A spokesman for Employment Minister Eric Abetz said: ''The Productivity Commission is both economically rigorous and socially sensitive. This will be a genuine independent inquiry that will be able to look at all relevant matters, including those relating to working hours and flexibility.''

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