Appointments to the Fair Work Commission
The Albanese Labor Government is taking the next step towards restoring balance to the Fair Work Commission.
The Liberals and Nationals spent a decade stacking the Commission with appointees from employer backgrounds in a bid to silence workers.
Of the 27 permanent appointments the Coalition made to the Commission, 26 came from an employer 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.
To that end I am announcing eight new appointments to the Commission today.
They bring extensive experience advocating for workers and I am confident they will work with dedication and diligence in their new roles.
Mr Tony Slevin has been appointed as a Deputy President of the Commission, commencing on 5 June 2023.
Mr Scott Connolly (15 May), Mr Stephen Crawford (22 May), Mr Mark Perica AM (22 May), Ms Pearl Lim (24 May), Ms Susie Allison (10 July), Ms Oanh Thi Tran (31 July) and Ms Emma Thornton (18 September) have been appointed as Commissioners.
These appointments were funded in the October 2022 Budget. The appointees will assist the Fair Work Commission perform functions arising from the passage of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022.
These functions include new expert panels in gender pay equity and the care and community sector, new powers to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace and an expanded role in providing support for workers and business in enterprise bargaining.
This is the second round of appointments the Government has made to the Commission. But even with these appointments we are still short of 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 is more important than ever as the Labor Government progresses ambitious workplace relations reforms to lift wages, improve job security and close loopholes undermining pay and conditions.
Mr Tony Slevin is a barrister at H B Higgins Chambers, Sydney, and has practised in industrial and employment law since 2003. Before that he worked as a Senior Adviser to the NSW Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations. Mr Slevin has also been Industrial Advocate for the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union and Adviser and Advocate for the Motor Inn and Motel Association and Licensed Clubs Association of NSW. Mr Slevin has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from Macquarie University.
Ms Susie Allison is Director of the Fair Jobs Code Unit in the Victorian Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions. Ms Allison has been Executive Director of the United Workers Union and has been Victorian Secretary of the National Union of Workers. Ms Allison has a Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Melbourne.
Mr Scott Connolly is Assistant Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Mr Connolly has been Assistant Secretary of the Queensland Branch of the Transport Workers Union. Mr Connolly has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Sydney, has completed the Trade Union Leadership Program at Harvard University and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Mr Stephen Crawford is Assistant National Secretary and Senior National Legal Officer of the Australian Workers’ Union national office. Mr Crawford has been Principal at Crawford de Carne Lawyers and Legal Officer with the Australian Workers’ Union Greater NSW Branch. Mr Crawford has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Newcastle.
Ms Pearl Lim is Senior Industrial Officer of the Australian Services Union, Western Australia Branch. Ms Lim has been Industrial Officer with the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, Western Australia Branch and is a member of the Unions WA Executive. Ms Lim has a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Australia.
Mr Mark Perica AM is Senior Legal Officer at the Community and Public Sector Union. Mr Perica has practised at the Victorian Bar, was with the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (Vehicle Division) and has worked with Gill Kane and Brophy; Freehill Hollingdale and Page; and Mallesons Stephen Jaques law firms. Mr Perica has a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Jurisprudence from the University of Western Australia, a Master of Arts from the University of Melbourne, and a Master of Law from Monash University.
Ms Emma Thornton is Practice Leader, Employment and Industrial with Johnston Withers Lawyers. Ms Thornton has been Office Leader, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Adelaide and Senior Associate at Lieschke & Weatherill Lawyers, and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Brisbane. Before then, Ms Thornton was Legal Officer with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Co-ordinator of the Young Workers Legal Service and Associate with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Ms Thornton has a Bachelor of Law and Legal Practice from Flinders University.
Ms Oanh Thi Tran is Principal Solicitor at the Young Workers Centre. Ms Tran has been National Legal and Industrial Officer with the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, Manufacturing Division and Industrial Officer with the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia, Victorian Branch. Before then, Ms Tran was an Articled Clerk and Solicitor with Macrossans Lawyers, Brisbane and Judge’s Associate with the Hon Justice Roslyn G Atkinson at the Supreme Court of Queensland. Ms Tran has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Bachelor of Law (Hons) from the University of Queensland.