Former Liberal politician Sophie Mirabella has reportedly been selected to fill one of the vacancies on the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
The news comes as the FWC could take on a more significant role in settling key industrial relations issues, after the federal government was forced to proceed with a dramatically scaled-back version of its IR omnibus bill last week.
Mirabella, who served as a Coalition MP between 2001 and 2013, has been chosen by Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter as one of five new commissioners to join the FWC, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Before entering politics, Mirabella worked as a lawyer. She held the regional Victorian seat of Indi for 12 years and served as the Coalition’s shadow minister for innovation and industry between 2009 and 2013.
Since leaving politics, Mirabella has served on the board of the Australian Submarine Corporation and handled government and media relations for Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.
Currently, the FWC has 39 serving commissioners. Commissioners reportedly earn annual salaries of $387,000, while deputy commissioners are paid $470,000.
There are three vacancies on the Commission, with two other members also due to retire soon.
Commissioners are appointed until the age of 65 and these appointments are officially made by the Governor-General. However, in practice, FWC appointments are made on recommendations by the federal government.
Most of the current serving commissioners were appointed by the Coalition, and Mirabella’s appointment will need to be approved by the federal cabinet.
However, Labor’s industrial relations spokesperson Tony Burke has already labelled the pending appointment as a “blatantly political appointment of a Liberal mate”.
“For the commission to work as intended there needs to be balance between employer and employee representatives,” he told the AFR.