Australian Christian Churches and 'New' Actors in Industrial Relations Theory

John Hicks, Richard Sappey, Parikshit Basu, John Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The previous Coalition Federal Government in Australia before the 2007 Federal election had endeavoured to radically change the Australian industrial relations environment through the introduction of the WorkChoices Bill in 2005. The main established Christian churches campaigned to have the proposed legislation amended. The campaign is analysed in order to ascertain the extent to which the churches became 'new' actors in industrial relations. The campaign was based on church doctrine which was used to interpret the social and economic consequences for working people and the unemployed of the WorkChoices Bill. Throughout 2005-6, the three main established Christian churches and their associated organisations in Australia engaged in media activity, presented submissions to parliamentary committees and joined a coalition with social and union groups in the clothing manufacturing industry. We argue that an analysis of the behaviour of the churches in the context of the WorkChoices Bill informs the growing literature on the development of industrial relations theory. The activities of the churches demonstrate that there is an increasing diversity of forms of participation in industrial relations which expand the 'patchwork' of actors in a less regulated institutional environment yet affording increased scope for alliances in network arrangements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-188
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Employment Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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