Abbott Shies Away From Statutory Individual Contracts

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said on television last night that the coalition would not bring back individual contracts.

However, Mr Abbott signalled that he would seek widespread changes to the Fair Work Act should he become prime minister.

"We don't support statutory individual contracts. We did once. We don't now," Mr Abbott told ABC Television.

"We're happy to look at building more flexibility into the Fair Work Act.

"As (Australian Industry Group CEO) Heather Ridout said the other day, the individual flexibility agreements under the Fair Work Act have promised so much, delivered so little and I'll be looking forward to the kind of suggestions that people like Heather might have once they've spoken to their members."

WorkChoices proved to be contentious for the former Liberal/Nationals government ahead of the 2007 election.

In the final months of its term, the legislation was attacked by Labor and the unions, worsening fears among workers it attacked their employment rights, such as benefits and job security.

Yet former Hoaward Government Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith has again reiterated the need for industrial relations reform.

Mr Reith said business leaders have argued that the Fair Work Act is inflexible and hampers productivity.

"Basically, if the public don't understand there are problems, they won't understand why they need to be supporting reforms," Mr Reith said.

"Show people the problems and then they'll support the reforms."