ACTU, business groups call on Senate to pass IR referral Bill

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ACTU, business groups call on Senate to pass IR referral Bill

The ACTU and two major business organisations have appealed to the Opposition to pass the legislation allowing for the referral of state industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth.

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The ACTU and two major business organisations have appealed to the Opposition to pass the legislation allowing for the referral of state industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth.
 
The legislation must pass through the Senate at its sittings this week to allow the new national IR system to include state private sector employers from 1 January 2010.
 
Begin again
 
IR Minister Julia Gillard has warned that if this does not happen, the state referral laws will lapse and the whole process will have to begin again.
 
The ACRU, ACCI and the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today released a statement calling on the Senate to pass the legislation.
 
The Coalition has opposed the new laws, saying they give too much power to the states — which will have to agree to any further amendments to the Fair Work Australia Act 2009 by a two-thirds majority.
 
Clarity required
 
The ACTU, ACCI and NFF said the state referrals Bill should be immediately passed so employees and employers had clarity about the laws that apply to them.
 
‘These arrangements for a single national system for the private sector have been arrived at following extensive negotiations between governments, and represent a step forward for co-operative federalism,’ the statement said.
 
‘We note that the referring States have now passed their own legislation to transfer IR powers to the Commonwealth, and all that awaits is approval by the Senate of these referrals.’
 
‘There is consensus between unions and business on the value of completing the national industrial relations system, notwithstanding our differences from time to time over the content of IR laws.’
 
‘There is now only a short time frame for the federal and state governments to conclude this landmark reform before the required operative date of 1 January 2010.’
 
Bipartisan
 
‘In a bipartisan manner, we jointly support the passage of the legislation and urge Senators to give effect to this national reform initiative.’
 
The legislation has been caught up in the current Liberal Party leadership crisis on the emissions trading scheme (ETS) Bill and has not even been debated. The Senate is currently only one-tenth of the way through debating amendments to the ETS legislation.
 
The Australian Industry Group was initially opposed to the referrals legislation because of the states’ veto rights, but chief executive Heather Ridout was embarrassingly forced to reverse her position late last week under pressure from other employer groups and the Labor Government, with which she has a close relationship.
 
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