Voluntary arbitration? The Victorian "experiment"

John F. Bourke

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article investigates an “experiment” by Victoria to use voluntary arbitration in industrial relations. The maritime, mining and pastoral industries disputes in the 1890s led to the inclusion in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 (Cth) of Australia’s “highly distinctive” systems of compulsory conciliation and arbitration. The Wages Boards existed in Victoria until 1992 when a Labor government abolished them with the enactment of the Industrial Relations (Enterprise Bargaining) Act 1992 (Vic). The Kennett Government then swept to power with radical industrial changes, earning for themselves the sobriquet “experiment”. Alas, the whole box and dice were thrown away in 1996 when Victoria referred most of its powers to the Commonwealth pursuant to s 51(37) of the Constitution. Nonetheless the Victorian experience is of interest, particularly in the context of the radical approach to industrial relations demonstrated in 2005 by the Howard-led federal government. This article considers the changes of the 1990s against the historical background of Victoria’s industrial relations system.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38-48
    Number of pages11
    JournalAustralasian dispute resolution journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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