ACCI sidesteps Howard’s IR laws and calls on States to negotiate national system

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ACCI sidesteps Howard’s IR laws and calls on States to negotiate national system

In a potential blow to the Howard Government’s planned national IR system legislation, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called on State and Federal Governments to achieve such a system by negotiation instead.

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In a potential blow to the Howard Government’s planned national IR system legislation, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called on State and Federal Governments to achieve such a system by negotiation instead.

ACCI has since 2002 called for a taskforce to develop options for a ‘harmonised national system of workplace relations’ but this is the first time an employer organisation has publicly backed away from supporting the Howard Government’s ‘direct assault on the States’ approach since it was announced this year.

Earlier this year ACCI called on all Australian governments to ‘objectively assess the direction of the proposed reforms in the national interest and to not seek to delay, challenge or otherwise deter their effective implementation’.

The Government says its IR legislation will be tabled in October, but an intergovernmental taskforce to negotiate a deal with the States would obviously delay this.

Different options

In a statement today, Peter Hendy, Chief Executive of ACCI, said there are different options by which a national system can be achieved - the best of which is by intergovernmental agreements.

He called on today’s meeting of Commonwealth, State and Territory Workplace Relations Ministers to set up a joint intergovernmental taskforce to achieve a national IR system.

State Labor governments have also argued that if a national IR system is to be set up then negotiation is the best way to go. ACTU Secretary Greg Combet put this view at one stage earlier this year.

NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca has also said State and Federal negotiations could achieve a ‘harmonious’ national system.

Hendy said the ACCI Blueprint for industrial relations reform, Modern Workplace: Modern Future, shows that an open minded approach would reveal ‘plenty of past support across political lines and the industrial divide for a single industrial relations system’.

He said an industrial relations system where one set of employment laws replaces multiple regulation by different federal and State parliaments, is in the national interest.

‘Politicians of different political persuasions have different views about the content of industrial relations laws,’ Hendy said.

‘However, Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers meeting today should resolve that a single national structure for employment laws should be created, rather than trade unproductive threats of legal challenges and defences.’

Chapter 7.3 of the ACCI Modern Workplace: Modern Future Blueprint ‘Harmonised National System’ is on the ACCI website.

Read the full text of the ACCI media release (0).

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