Lawrence tipped for Fair Work bench

Happy news? Former ACTU chief Jeff Lawrence.
Happy news? Former ACTU chief Jeff Lawrence.

FORMER ACTU chief Jeff Lawrence is being tipped for appointment by Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten to the nation's industrial relations commission.

Mr Lawrence was ACTU secretary from 2007 until last May, and has been repeatedly rumoured to be joining Fair Work Australia.

Mr Lawrence said he had read a report on Wednesday speculating on his likely appointment as a senior deputy president. ''It [the story] was interesting. But I haven't got any other comment,'' he said.

Mr Lawrence said that earlier speculation that he would take up one of two new powerful vice-president positions, created in a review of the Fair Work Act last year, was wrong. ''That was silly,'' he said.

In October, Liberal MP Jamie Briggs speculated in Parliament that Mr Lawrence was bound for the industrial relations commission, in one of the two new vice-president roles.

''He has a bit of time on his hands, is looking around for new opportunities - and guess what pops up? There we are: vice-president of Fair Work Australia. It pays pretty well - $350,000 to $360,000 a year with a car, superannuation, a nice office, two associates,'' Mr Briggs said.

Also reported as a likely appointment to the commission is Australian Industry Group national industrial relations officer Stephen Smith. He declined to comment when contacted on Wednesday.

A spokesman for Mr Shorten, himself a former national union official, said that no decision had been made on the appointees and that any decision would need to be considered by federal cabinet, which next meets when Parliament sits in early February.

Expressions of interest for the two new vice-president positions closed in late December.

This story Lawrence tipped for Fair Work bench first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.