Community radio station covered by federal IR law

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Community radio station covered by federal IR law

The WA Industrial Relations Commission has held a multicultural community radio station to be covered by the federal Workplace Relations Act 1996 because it fell within the definition of a trading corporation. Consequently, the radio station was not within the jurisdiction of the WA commission for the purposes of an unfair dismissal claim.

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The WA Industrial Relations Commission has held a multicultural community radio station to be covered by the federal Workplace Relations Act 1996 because it fell within the definition of a trading corporation. Consequently, the radio station was not within the jurisdiction of the WA commission for the purposes of an unfair dismissal claim.

Multiple funding sources

In relation to the fact that the radio station was receiving funds from a number of sources, including government, the WA commission stated:

‘There is no reason in principle why a tripartite arrangement may not constitute trading. The fact that government funds are used for a public welfare service, does not necessarily have the effect that the means by which the funds were received, or the arrangement overall, is not trading.

The correct approach in our opinion is to carefully consider, on a fact specific basis, the means by which the government funds are provided to a corporation, to see if it is trading …

It is critical in consideration of issues before the Commission in these proceedings to examine the main emphasis or focus of the respondent and from this determine the respondent’s activities.

The Commission finds the main focus of the respondent to be the facilitation of community broadcasting by radio in the main, to communities defined by ethnic interest both for those organisations defined as broadcast members of the respondent and for those fee paying clients …

The Commission considers the respondent, in meeting its financial obligations, engages in commercial transactions and activities including but not limited to ownership of assets, selling of air time to members and non members alike and obtaining limited income from sponsorships and subscriptions.

… what ought be focused on in the consideration of whether an organisation is a trading organisation is whether its trading activities can be considered as substantial …’

The Commission found that the radio station to be a trading corporation for the purposes of s51(xx) of the Commonwealth Constitution and therefore the application was beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission.

Panagouta Tsakisiris v MRTA of WA Inc 2008 WAIRC 00250 (18 April 2008)


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