Neutrality in the Tribunal: an insular debate or a valid concern?

Southey, Kim and Fry, Simon (2012) Neutrality in the Tribunal: an insular debate or a valid concern? In: Fair work act: revision or restitution. Heidelberg Press, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia, pp. 103-125. ISBN 978-1-920889-52-4


One may wonder what arbitration decisions are being reached by our Federal industrial arbitrators, given the constant debate among social commentators that a number of tribunal appointments to the AIRC and now FWA are a reflection of the appointing government’s ideological bias. This debate is underpinned by a general perception that arbitrators with union backgrounds will tend to favour the interests of workers and vice versa for appointees with an employer background. This chapter addresses the potential for bias to occur in the arbitration setting and identifies existing safeguards that aim to limit bias occurring in Australia’s Federal tribunal. The nature of the ‘stacking’ debate is described before examining unfair dismissal arbitration decisions of the AIRC to consider if this ongoing debate has any foundation. The results reveal a mildly significant association between the work background of the members and their substantive arbitration decisions – however, this result is to be interpreted with caution as decisions are influenced by a range of explanatory factors. The most recent appointment to FWA was secured via a job application process, which is to be applauded but further steps could be taken to improve the public perception.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Chapter 7. Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business and Law - School of Management and Marketing
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2013 08:32
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2017 06:41
Uncontrolled Keywords: unfair dismissal, arbitration, Fair Work Australia, FWA, Australian Industrial Relations Commission, AIRC
Fields of Research : 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150306 Industrial Relations
Socio-Economic Objective: B Economic Development > 91 Economic Framework > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910401 Industrial Relations

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