Employer body attacks NSW Libs' backflip on  WorkChoices

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Employer body attacks NSW Libs' backflip on WorkChoices

A leading business organisation has called on the NSW Opposition to return to its policy of handing all the States IR powers to the Commonwealth if its wins the next election, following its shock decision to support the exemption of State public servants from WorkChoices.

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A leading business organisation has called on the NSW Opposition to return to its policy of handing all the States IR powers to the Commonwealth if its wins the next election, following its shock decision to support the exemption of State public servants from WorkChoices.

Liberal leader Peter Debnam said in Parliament yesterday that the Opposition would now refer ‘a majority of our industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth Government if we are elected to government next year’ but will retain some powers, including those covering State employees.

WorkplaceInfo revealed exclusively yesterday that the Liberals had decided not to oppose the Labor Government’s legislation to remove public servants from State-owned corporations and return them to direct employment. WorkChoices can only apply to employees of corporations.

The legislation also defines State consent awards as State agreements, preventing them from becoming ‘notional federal agreements’ captured by the WorkChoices legislation.

Call for re-statement of policy

Mark Bethwaite, Chief Executive of ABL/State Chamber, said today the NSW Opposition should re-state its industrial relations policy to avoid any confusion.

‘The decision of the Opposition in April last year to refer NSW industrial relations powers to the Federal Government was welcomed by NSW businesses’, he said.

‘It demonstrated a willingness to embrace the reform that NSW needs to once again be the economic engine-room of Australia.

‘A key element of that reform is to create a single national industrial relations system – the States need to refer their industrial relations powers in their entirety for this to be realised.’

Bethwaite said the decision to support the Iemma Government’s amendments this week raised questions about the Opposition’s commitment to reform.

‘The NSW Opposition should re-affirm its April 2005 policy on Industrial Relations so there is no confusion in the community about its policy position,’ he said.

The Labor Shadow spokesman for industrial relations said the NSW Liberal’s decision ‘reinforces the fact that the Federal Government’s so-called single national industrial relations system is not that, but a jurisdictional dog’s breakfast with incomplete coverage’.

‘This decision by Peter Debnam and his State Liberal Party colleagues comes before we’ve seen the reams of regulations the Howard/Costello Government needs to implement the bulk of their extreme and unfair legislation,’ he said.

The Liberal’s backflip on handing all its IR powers to the Federal Government is believed to be based on a concern that full support for WorkChoices could cost it votes at the State election in March next year.

Other problems for Federal Government

Their decision comes just two days after the Government’s Senate Leader Nick Minchin admitted that many people ‘violently disagree’ with the Federal Government’s IR changes.

Labor derided Debnam in State Parliament yesterday as ‘flip flop’ Peter.

They asked why, if WorkChoices was not suitable for public servants, his party was prepared to subject private sector workers to the laws.

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has so far had nothing to say on his NSW Liberal colleague’s sudden change in their total support for WorkChoices.

Related

NSW Libs support public service exemptions to WorkChoices

 

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