The Albanese Labor Government is delivering on its promise to restore balance to the Fair Work Commission to give workers an equal voice in decisions that affect them.
The Liberals and Nationals spent a decade stacking the Commission with appointees from employer backgrounds.
Of the 27 permanent appointments the Coalition made to the Commission, 26 came from an employer background.
As a result, there are now 29 commission members with an employer background and just nine members with a worker background.
In Opposition Labor repeatedly promised to rebalance the Commission so workers have just as much of a voice as employers.
For the Commission to work as intended it needs to be properly balanced. It should work in the interests of workers and businesses alike.
Today I announce five new appointments to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and the promotion of an existing member.
The appointees bring extensive experience to the roles, and I am confident they will execute their duties with impartiality and diligence.
Ms Ingrid Asbury has been promoted to the role of Vice President of the Commission. Ms Asbury’s term commences on 30 March 2023 and follows the appointment of the Hon Justice Adam Hatcher as President.
Ms Judith Wright, Mr Thomas Roberts, Mr Peter O’Keeffe, and Ms Alexandra Grayson have been appointed Deputy Presidents of the Commission.
Ms Wright commences 11 April 2023, Mr Roberts commences 17 April 2023, Mr O’Keeffe commences 1 May 2023 and Ms Grayson commences 14 July 2023.
Ms Sharon Durham has been appointed as a Commissioner of the FWC. Ms Durham’s term commences on 3 April 2023.
Even with these appointments we are still a long way from balance. There is more work to do to correct the Coalition’s shameless stack.
I look forward to the day when I can return to appointing people from employee and employer backgrounds in equal numbers. But there is an immediate imperative to restore the balance.
The Commission’s work will be more important than ever as the Government progresses ambitious workplace relations reforms to lift wages, improve job security and close the loopholes undermining pay and conditions.
Ms Ingrid Asbury has been a Deputy President of the commission since 2013. Ms Asbury is President of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal and Chairperson of the Northern Territory Policy Arbitral Tribunal. Ms Asbury was appointed Commissioner of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission in 2000 and has been a Member of the Fair Work Commission and its predecessors since 2001. Prior to her appointment to the QIRC, Ms Asbury was National Industry Group Manager for the Australian Industry Group.
Ms Judith Wright is Deputy Secretary, Australian Municipal, Clerical and Services Union, NSW, and ACT Services Branch. Ms Wright has been Senior Solicitor with the Waitemata Community Law Service in New Zealand and Senior Associate with Jones Staff and Company.
Mr Thomas Roberts is a Senior Legal Officer of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, where he was previously Director, Legal, Research and Policy.
Mr Peter O’Keeffe is Branch Secretary, Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, Western Australian Branch, where he also held Senior Industrial Officer and Branch Assistant Secretary roles. Before then, Mr O’Keeffe was Human Resources Manager with The Smith’s Snackfood Company, Employee Relations Manager with Bunnings and Industrial / Research Officer with the Breweries and Bottleyards Union of Western Australia.
Ms Alexandra Grayson is Principal Lawyer with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. Ms Grayson has been Senior Associate with WG McNally Jones Staff, Tipstaff to the Honourable Justice Staff, Industrial Relations Commission of NSW, and National Industrial Officer with the Finance Sector Union.
Ms Sharon Durham has been Senior Director, Industrial Relations and Workplace Arrangements with Queensland Health, Operations Manager with the Queensland Plumbers Union, Lead Industrial Officer with the Queensland Council of Unions, and Industrial Advocate with Together Queensland. More recently she has been Chief of Staff to the Queensland Minister for Education, Industrial Relations and Racing.