Fairness test passes, OEA head dumped

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Fairness test passes, OEA head dumped

As soon as the Federal Government's fairness test legislation went through Parliament the heads of its new Workplace Authority and Workplace Ombudsman have been announced.

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As soon as the Federal Government's fairness test legislation went through Parliament the heads of its new Workplace Authority and Workplace Ombudsman have been announced.

Peter McIlwain, former head of the Office of Employment Advocate, has been dropped to the Deputy Director position of the new Workplace Authority which takes its place.

Massive task

The Workplace Authority will now take on the massive task of processing AWAs under the new fairness test.

McIlwain has been replaced as head of the new authority by Barbara Bennett, the former Chief Executive Officer of Comcare. Before that, she held senior executive positions in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) and the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.

DEWR has estimated that each AWA will take between 10 and 14 days to process under the fairness test, and forecasts that 400,000 AWAs will be lodged next year. The Government plans to hire 600 public servants to run the system.

Wilson stays on as Ombudsman

Nicholas Wilson, the current head of the Office of Workplace Services (OWS) will retain his position as the new Workplace Ombudsman.

The new appointments are for five years.

Fairness legislation through Parliament

The fairness test legislation passed through Parliament last night after the House of Representatives accepted amendments made in the Senate.

Labor 'no' vote stymied

Labor was planning to vote against the amendment allowing the Government to force all employers under the WorkChoices Act to provide their employees with fact sheets on their rights and obligations under the new legislation.

However, the Government 'bundled' the amendments in such a way that if Labor had voted against the fact sheet amendment, it would also have had to vote against extending employees redundancy entitlements from one to two years when agreements are terminated.

Liberal 'propaganda'

Labor claims the fact sheets will be 'Liberal Party propaganda' at taxpayers' expense.

The legislation will take effect when it gets Royal Assent, which is expected to occur when the Executive Council meets late next week.

The Government is anxious to get the fairness test process running as soon as possible to counter its industrial relations difficulties in the polls running up to the next Federal election, expected in October or November this year.

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