National

John Lloyd new Public Service Commissioner

The Abbott government has brought in workplace reform warlord John Lloyd as the new Australian Public Service Commissioner starting Sunday at a time when enterprise bargaining negotiations for 160,000 public servants have stalled and widespread industrial action is planned.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Mr Lloyd would bring extensive public sector experience particularly in the areas of employment and workplace relations but the Community and Public Sector Union said he was a "stalwart of the radical right".

In the past Mr Lloyd has preached about the need for greater casualisation of the Australian workforce, the "fact" Australian workers could not be guaranteed job security and railed against the destructive nature of union militancy on productivity.  

Mr Lloyd has a history of staring down some of the most powerful construction unions in the country as a former Australian Building and Construction Commissioner - a controversial position started under the Howard government, abolished under Julia Gillard and now being resurrected by the Coalition.

From 2005 to 2010 he waged war on unlawful industrial action and coercion by building unions which said the commissioner's powers were far too broad because it could summon workers to attend interviews or face jail.

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Mr Lloyd will take up his job as federal public service overseer at the same time 15,000 union members at one of the biggest arms of the Australian bureaucracy, the Department of Human Services, launch a campaign of civil disobedience.

Mr Lloyd will be the man standing behind senior executives at DHS ready to dock wages if staff looking after Medicare and Centrelink stray outside the boundaries of industrial action they have been given permission for by the Fair Work Commission.   

He also will have the job of signing off on agreements with federal bureaucrats in an environment where the government is expected to put forward pay increases well below inflation and public servants are being advised by unions to vote 'no'.

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CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said the appointment of a hard-line warrior from the Institute of Public Affairs think tank was an extraordinary signal to send to public servants. 

"John Lloyd is a stalwart of the radical right, lauded by the HR Nicholls Society for his role at the forefront of attacks on workers' rights from the ABCC to Workchoices," Ms Flood said. 

"We have always said that we are prepared to talk with this government to find fair and sensible solutions to workplace relations but unfortunately with Mr Lloyd's appointment it looks like the government is intent on keeping its door slammed shut."

Labor senator Doug Cameron, a long-time opponent of Mr Lloyd, said the appointment set the scene for industrial confrontation which would reduce public service morale and productivity.

"He's an IPA pin-up boy, an extreme ideologue," Senator Cameron said.

In 2011 Mr Lloyd wrote in favour of Qantas' decision not to give in to union demands, saying "union militancy may have been tolerated in decades past but it is an economic anachronism in today's connected and competitive world".

He said unions in all sectors, including the public service, were using protracted negotiations, media attacks, bans and strikes to beat employers into submission.

In 2012 he wrote the unpalatable features of casual and fixed-term work as well as contracting and labour hire had been massively overstated.

"It is a fact that in 2012 Australian workers cannot be guaranteed job security. At the same time, most can look forward to regular employment throughout their working lives. Workers in most industries embrace different modes of work. It has underpinned our strong jobs and incomes growth."

Another area Mr Lloyd is experienced in, which the Prime Minister will enjoy, is a distaste for red tape. He is a former Red Tape Commissioner for the Victorian government.

At the Commonwealth level, he was a senior deputy president of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and a deputy secretary of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

In Western Australia he served as chief executive of the Department of Productivity and Labour Relations, and in Victoria as a deputy secretary of the Department of Business and Employment.

He was awarded the Public Service Medal in 2004 for outstanding public service in the field of workplace relations, particularly for his contribution to the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry.

Stephen Sedgwick finishes his term as commissioner this week.

Mr Lloyd has been given a five-year term.

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