This chapter seeks to apply ‘new’ regulation theory to industrial tribunals, in par-ticular the functions and powers of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) in relation to enterprise bargaining and the making of collec-tive workplace agreements. In a conventional economic sense, industrial tribunals have always been regulatory agencies, with their awards operating as labour standards setting minimum pay and conditions. Since the 1990s, though, the major work and impact of industrial tribunals has changed from making awards to the facilitation and approval of agreements as part of the process of labour market “deregulation.” As (at the time of final revision of this paper) it now appears that any powers of the AIRC to supervise agreement-making will shortly and finally be abolished, we are in a position to review the particular ap-proach adopted for the regulation of workplace bargaining over the last decade. If industrial tribunals will no longer have a regulatory role to play in the setting of conditions by agreements, the opportunity also arises for us to consider what new type of institution might now be appropriate for the inevitable regulation which occurs within the labour market.
This book chapter was originally published as Frazer, AD, Industrial Tribunals and the Regulation of Bargaining, in Arup, C et al (eds), Labour Law and Labour Market Regulation, Sydney, Federation Press, 2006, 223-241.