Andrews still hoping States will cede IR powers

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Andrews still hoping States will cede IR powers

The Federal Government is to set up two transitional systems to enable unincorporated businesses to move into the new national IR system, but Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has not given up hope that the States will cede their powers.

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The Federal Government is to set up two transitional systems to enable unincorporated businesses to move into the new national IR system, but Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has not given up hope that the States will cede their powers.

The question

At an Australian Business Limited breakfast in Sydney this morning, Andrews was asked by a representative of the Pharmacy Guild of NSW to businesses like pharmacies.

‘Pharmacies are unincorporated bodies, and mostly on state awards, and it is not just a point about getting incorporated, it is prohibited in the state for a pharmacy proprietor to be incorporated,’ Andrews was told. 

‘We are automatically disadvantaged, so how can we get the best results from these new reforms?’ 

The answer

Andrews replied that there would be two sets of transitional provisions.

‘For those businesses who are currently in the federal system and who are not incorporated we will provide a five year transitional period,’ he said.

‘While the legislation will primarily rely on the corporations powers, for a period of five years it will continue to use the conciliation and arbitration power and therefore allow that period of time for businesses to decide whether they wish to incorporate, incorporate the entity that employs labour for their business, to make some other arrangements or revert back to the state system.’

He said for those corporations that are currently within the state system the Government is providing new federal transitional agreements to replace the state awards and state agreements.

‘If you are an incorporated body in NSW and you have employees under an award then that state award will become a new transitional federal agreement,’ he said.

‘It will run for a maximum of three years after which you can enter into a new agreement or revert to a federal award.  

‘And for those agreements under the state system involving corporations, those agreements will become also federal transitional agreements and they will run for the life of the agreement and then be renegotiated in the normal way.’  

Andrews said he was aware there are some businesses, and pharmacies are an example, who for some reasons choose not to incorporate.

‘We will provide what we believe is a maximum period of time  that we can constitutionally for transition, but at the end of that some businesses will have to make a choice as to whether or not they can incorporate or make other arrangements for the employment of their staff, or to go back to the state system,’ he said. 

Transitional provisions - time limit

He said that had to be a limit on relying on arbitration and conciliation power for transition, ‘otherwise the High Court would rightly say you are not relying on it as a transitional measure you are actually relying on it as one of the heads of power underpinning the Act’.

Single system makes sense

‘I certainly haven’t given up hope that the states will refer their power to the Commonwealth,’ Andrews said. 

‘Let’s remember that the opposition of State Labor governments is simply political and opportunistic.  

‘As long ago as 1991 Bob Carr wrote that it was sensible to have a national system of IR and I haven’t heard him recanting from that position. He’s right.  

‘Even my opposition spokesman Stephen Smith has admitted the economic advantages to Australia of having a single system of IR.  

‘Bill Shorten is saying that it is far too complex having 130 pieces of different industrial legislation in this country that you have to understand and operate under. 

‘They know that a single system is what this country desires and I believe that when the sound and the fury dies down they will look again at the purpose of having an elaborate IR system just to cater for 20 to% of the workers in the state.  

‘The economic case, the common sense and the logical case for having a single system is there and I haven’t given up hope that we will eventually get one single system.’

Related

The new IR laws – employers will get what they want, eventually 

 

 

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