Shorten recruits Law Council chief for Fair Work Commission

Bill Shorten will announce appointments to the Fair Work Commission in an attempt to provide balance as well as legal expertise. AAP/Dave Hunt

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten is bringing private sector legal firepower into the Fair Work Commission, including appointing the President of the Law Council of Australia, Joe Catanzariti as one of two new vice presidents.

Mr Catanzariti has been head of workplace relations at the legal firm Clayton Utz for many years. The other vice president is Adam Hartcher, SC, a senior legal figure, who does a lot of union work.

The two are among eight members announced today, including four deputy presidents and two commissioners. Former ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence is one of the deputy presidents. Mr Lawrence ceded the secretary job to Dave Oliver last year, as the ACTU beefed up its campaigning activities in preparation for this year’s election.

It was widely expected that he would get a commission post.

The other deputy presidents are:

  • Ingrid Asbury, who is from an employer background and is already at the commission.

  • Anne Gooley, also currently a commissioner.

  • Val Gostencnik, who runs workplace relations at Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

The search for outside legal talent is part of an effort to improve the credentials of Fair Work Australia, after criticisms of its performance. Mr Shorten will argue that they provide it with balance as well as strong legal expertise.