Hockey puts Fairness Test 'in chaos', says Gillard

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Hockey puts Fairness Test 'in chaos', says Gillard

Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, has added further confusion to the Government's proposed new 'Fairness Test' for AWAs by seemingly disagreeing with the Prime Minister over whether it will be backdated.

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Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, has added further confusion to the Government's proposed new 'Fairness Test' for AWAs by seemingly disagreeing with the Prime Minister over whether it will be backdated.

When announcing the Test, John Howard said the Fairness Test will: 'apply to all workplace agreements lodged on or after 7 May 2007. Employers and employees who are currently making an agreement will therefore need to be conscious of the Fairness Test'.

Yesterday Hockey admitted that the new laws relating to the test were still being 'worked through with the [Parliamentary] draftsmen' and he refused to speculate on the legislation's contents.

This led Opposition IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, to ask Hockey in Parliament: 'Doesn't this mean that, since 12.01 am on Monday, your Government has been forcing employers to comply with a test that has not even been drafted yet?'

Hockey replied: 'No'.

Is test in operation or not?

Gillard has today asked whether this meant the laws are not in operation from 7 May as the Prime Minister had said they are. She said today the Government's industrial relations laws are 'in chaos'.

Gillard said that 'while the legislation for the new fake fairness hasn't been written, employers and employees around the country are supposed to be complying with it'.

'If the Prime Minister, his document and the advertisements are right, employers and employees are supposed to be complying today with a test so ill-defined the Minister won't even speculate on its contents,' she said.

Gillard declared that by saying 'no' to her question Hockey had cast doubt on whether the new test is in fact currently in operation.

Legal confusion

'Is the new test in operation or not?' she said. 'Is the Prime Minister, his document and the advertisements right or is the Minister?

'And in this mass of legal confusion what are honest employers and employees to do? Ignore the new test because the Minister has said it isn't in operation, or try to comply with it when it is so ill-defined the Minister can't even speculate on its contents?'

She said the creation of the Fairness Test was just an excuse to run a political advertising campaign to deal with its 'huge political problem' over WorkChoices.

Media reports today indicate the Fairness Test legislation should be in place by the end of the current Budget session of Parliament.

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