Australian Experience Highlights Need For Kiwi Reform

  • Max Bradford

The recent Australian Labour Ministers Conference highlighted the need for New Zealand to move ahead with economic reform, Labour Minister Max Bradford says.

Mr Bradford, who attended the conference in Melbourne on Friday, said Australia was turning its attention to a second wave of labour market reform as part of an active reform agenda designed to build a vigorous, internationally competitive economy.

"There was considerable discussion about the "second wave of reform". The federal and state governments are working towards this as rapidly as possible," Mr Bradford said.

"There is no doubt this will be good for Australia in terms of its international edge, but it highlights the pressing need for New Zealand to keep moving ahead if we want to remain competitive."

"New Zealand has made great progress over the last 10 years, but that progress has ground to a near halt in the last two years. Australia is not the only country which has caught up and is threatening to overtake us with productivity growth brought about by increased labour market flexibility, among other things."

Mr Bradford said the Australian labour ministers were publicly looking to the example of New Zealand's past labour market reform and conducting research into labour market deregulation with particular emphasis on the improvement in Australia's competitiveness.

"At my invitation the Australian labour ministers are to hold their next conference in New Zealand in order to learn first hand about our experience with the Employment Contracts Act."

Mr Bradford said the reason the Coalition Agreement stated that the ECA was to be kept under continuous review was to ensure that it allowed maximum flexibility and fairness in the workplace as the business environment grew more competitive.

"The progress made in Australia simply highlights the need for continuous review and reform of our labour market if we are to keep up."