The Labor lawyer and the death seal

Below is an article by Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald on the decision by Justice Bromberg of the Federal Court rejecting the attempt by Toyota to seek changes in the enterprise agreement it has with unions. It vividly illustrates the difficulties faced by businesses under the Fair Work legislation and some of its judicial interpreters. Minister Abetz has said he is seeking departmental advice, presumably on whether to challenge the decision.

Justice Mordecai Mordy Bromberg of the Federal Court of Australia probably signed the death warrant of the Australian vehicle manufacturing industry last Thursday when he helped ensure that Toyota Australia, with its costly work culture, has no future as a manufacturer here.


While Australians have nostalgia for Holden cars, 90 per cent of buyers are not purchasing Holdens, and most buyers do not care if their Toyotas are sourced overseas or here. When consumers fully understand what is subsidised by taxpayers they will not care if Toyota goes. And Toyota is going.

As the motor industry analyst Joshua Dowling observed after reading Brombergs judgment: The fate of Toyota Australias manufacturing operations has effectively been sealed by a decision in the Federal Court today.


The courts decision to block Toyota from asking its factory workers to vote tomorrow on changes to shift flexibility and overtime bonuses means … the entire Australian car industry is likely to grind to a halt after Fords factory shutdowns in 2016, Holdens closures in 2017 and a likely end to Toyotas operations in 2018, when the current Camry ends its run.

On Thursday, Toyota workers begin their three-week Christmas holiday, the longest shutdown in Toyotas global manufacturing operation. Plus theres their 17.5 per cent holiday pay loading, plus double time-and-a-half when they work on Sundays, plus shift premiums, plus generous long-service leave, plus no medical certificates for sick days, plus time off to give blood usually on Fridays – all of which the chief executive of Toyota Australia, Max Yasuda, has warned is unsustainable.

All of which, by the way, is subsidised by taxpayers, in the misguided, anachronistic idea that Australia can support heavily unionised, government-subsidised heavy industry. It cant. The vehicle manufacturing industry is gone. The shipbuilding industry is next.

Read the rest here: The Labor lawyer and the death seal.