High Court challenge to IR laws to be heard in May


High Court challenge to IR laws to be heard in May

The High Court challenge to the Federal Government’s WorkChoices IR laws will be heard in May.


Get unlimited access to all of our content.

The High Court challenge to the Federal Government’s WorkChoices IR laws will be heard in May.

Chief Justice Murray Gleeson today provisionally set down May 8 - 12 to hear the case. However the hearing dates could change if matters arise warranting a delay.

The parties challenging

NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland were parties to proceedings in the High Court this morning, and their applications will be heard together.

The Queensland branch of the Australian Workers’ Union’s application to join in the case was accepted, and Unions NSW has announced it will also be lodging a challenge (see below).

The Commonwealth has been given two weeks to decide if it wanted to argue its case ‘on demurer’, in which case the arguments would go straight to key legal issues without dispute over facts in the States’ statements of claim.

Commonwealth Solicitor-General David Bennett QC told Chief Justice Gleeson that, at this stage, this was the Commonwealth’s preferred course of action.

Victoria told the court it also intended to file an application, and would be mindful of the timetable the court had nominated, and Tasmania said it expected to play a small part in the process.

The timing

The directions hearing was adjourned until 9.30am on Thursday, 9 March.

If the case goes ahead in May a decision could be brought down as early as September.

Unions NSW to join High Court challenge

Labor’s Stephen Smith said today the High Court challenge underlines the ongoing administrative problems with the legislation. He said the bulk of the Act is yet to be proclaimed and there is no sight of the regulations.

‘New South Wales is making the point in the High Court today, that without the regulations the High Court is not in a position to make a final judgement about the constitutional aspects of the legislation,’ he said.

Unions NSW announced yesterday that it would join the States in challenging the WorkChoices legislation, particularly regarding its assumption of power over State-based unions.

Unions NSW Secretary John Robertson said the Howard Government has ‘robbed workers of rights they and many others have fought for over many decades’.

‘It is an attempt to impose its agenda over the top of the state system and we believe that is unconstitutional,’ he said.

‘The Australian Constitution contains an explicit power concerning the regulation of industrial relations. That power makes it clear that industrial relations is an area in which the powers of the Commonwealth and the states are to be shared.

‘Our Constitution allows the federal government to make laws to deal with disputes that cross state borders, while the state governments have the power to make laws that deal with intra-state disputes. This has been established for more than 100 years.

‘The Howard Government has launched a hostile takeover of the industrial relations powers of the states. This is an inappropriate use of constitutional powers.’


State Governments' reaction to Federal IR agenda

Andrews cancels yet another IR meeting with the States


Post details