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New appointments to the Fair Work Commission

On 18 December 2021 Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Michaelia Cash, announced the appointment of two new Deputy Presidents to the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

Mr Andrew Bell will commence on 18 January 2022 and Ms Theresa Moltoni OAM will commence 21 February 2022.

“On behalf of the Australian Government, I congratulate both new Deputy Presidents on their appointments. I am confident that the appointees will execute their duties with impartiality and diligence,” Minister Cash said.

AREEA Chief Executive Steve Knott AM, said both were “fantastic additions” to the tribunal.

“I have known Theresa Moltoni for a number of years: as leader of a highly respected IR legal consultancy; CEO of AREEA member WorkPac; and through her role on the workplace policy committee of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, of which I am a Board Director,” Mr Knott said.

“Theresa is very highly respected amongst the business community and brings significant skills and experience across all aspects of industrial relations, legal and practical, to the FWC.

“Andrew Bell is also very highly respected. A Barrister at the Victorian Bar since 2010, Andrew has been involved in many of the country’s recent high-profile industrial relations and employment law matters.

“In addition to his experience in legal practice Andrew has worked at the ACCC and, notably for AREEA’s resources sector members, formerly as a chemical engineer. His broad life and career experiences will add much value to the FWC.”

Mr Knott said it was a “wise move” for the Government to be bolstering the ranks of the FWC ahead of an expected rise in COVID-19 related workplace disputes.

“The FWC is widely expected to deal with an escalating number of workplace disputes as more employers seek to implement vaccine requirements and other COVID-19 risk mitigation policies,” he said.

“As the nation opens up and we learn to live with this virus, so too will businesses be reconsidering their policies and procedures to ensure, as far as practical, safe and virus-free workplaces.”

Mr Knott further said there was a “very strong case” for the Government to make further appointments to the FWC early this year.

He noted three aged-based retirements would occur in the first quarter, further depleting the tribunal of much-needed senior resources.

“Even after the seven high quality appointees in 2021 – five in April and two in December – the FWC’s resourcing remains at comparatively low levels,” he said.

“The tribunal now has 46 members – the same number it did in 2013 when the Australian Labor Party was last in government – however will soon lose another three to retirement.

“The national economy and the complex changes we are seeing in Australian workplaces are not going to stand still and wait for the Federal Election.  AREEA strongly encourages the Government to make further appointments in the new year, with additional funding provided in the March Federal Budget if necessary.”

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