Gillard slams Libs move to block State IR referrals

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Gillard slams Libs move to block State IR referrals

The Coalition has decided to oppose the bill facilitating the States referring their workplace relations powers to the Commonwealth, which means many employers may be blocked from moving onto FWA from 1 January next year.

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The Coalition has decided to oppose the bill facilitating the States referring their workplace relations powers to the Commonwealth, which means many employers may be blocked from moving onto FWA from 1 January next year.
 
If the Coalition can convince one of the two independent senators to join them in voting against the legislation it will be blocked.
 
The move has surprised observers, as a national IR system has been Liberal Party policy for decades, and was brought closer by the Howard Government’s use of corporations powers to bring in the Workplace Relations Act.
 
Too much power to the States’
 
Opposition IR spokesman Michael Keenan has said the referral legislation will be opposed because it gives too much power to the States and they are unfit to exercise it.
 
Under a deal done by IR Minister Julia Gillard, any future amendments to the FWA Act would have to be approved by two thirds of the States.
 
Ai Group chief executive, Heather Ridout, has also opposed the legislation because the state veto could delay needed technical adjustments to the legislation once it begins to be bedded in.
 
If the bill is blocked, those employers currently in the national IR system will remain, but those in the private sector currently operating under state provisions will not move across.
 
Serious consequences
 
Gillard yesterday wrote to the Keenan outlining the serious consequences of the Opposition blocking the legislation.
 
She said the Liberal’s opposition to this legislation completely contradicts their stated support for a national workplace relations system for the private sector.
 
Quotes Howard’s support for national system
 
Gillard quoted former Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard's address to Sydney Institute on 11 July 2005:
‘Six different industrial relations systems is an anachronism for a nation of 20 million people in a region that will be the world’s economic centre of gravity in the 21st century…
 
…It’s time they recognised that a single system of workplace laws is in the national interest…
 
…The costs from duplication, inconsistency, complexity and uncertainty are borne by employers and employees alike...’

Keenan supported it

She also quoted Keenan’s Second Reading Speech to the Fair Work (State Referral and Consequential and Other Amendments) Bill 2009 2 June 2009:
‘This bill will build upon the work of the Coalition in 1996 by allowing the State of Victoria to continue its referral of power to the Commonwealth. It will allow consistency of workplace laws in that State and create certainty there for business and workers. It will also provide a model for other States in referring their powers to the Commonwealth, if they choose to do so.’
‘Today, the only thing standing between Australian employers and employees, and a national workplace relations system are the Liberals,’ Gillard said.
 
Monumental backflip’
 
‘This monumental back flip can only be explained by the Liberals’ determination to delay debate in the Australian Parliament for its own political purposes and its secret plan to bring back WorkChoices.
 
‘Over the last two years, the Government has worked constructively with each State government to deliver a national workplace relation system for the private sector.
 
‘The States have agreed that the Fair Work Act 2009, unlike WorkChoices, is fair and balanced and is a solid foundation for a national system.’
 
Gillard said the move to a national workplace relations system for the private sector would be an important step forward in achieving a productive, streamlined national economy.
 
Historic reform
 
‘This historic reform will ensure all Australian employees working in the private sector benefit from the Government’s new workplace relations system, Fair Work.
 
‘Business leaders, unions, and State and Territory governments are all calling for a national workplace relations system.These calls should be met by support of the Australian Parliament for this crucial and long-awaited economic reform.’
 
Gillard said that in opposing this legislation, the Liberal Party is confirming its plans to re-introduce AWAs, which allow basic wages and conditions to be stripped away.
 
She said the Fair Work Amendment (State Referral and Other Measures) Bill 2009 enables States to terminate their referral if a future amendment to the Fair Work Act is made which is inconsistent with the principles set out in the Inter-Governmental Agreement and the Act.
 
Reform vandals
 
‘For instance, the principles include that the Fair Work Act should provide for, and continue to provide for, collective bargaining at the enterprise level with no provision for individual statutory agreements, otherwise known as AWAs,’ she said.
 
‘In announcing that it will oppose the creation of a national workplace relations system for the private sector, the Liberals have confirmed their place in Australian politics as political opportunists, reform vandals, and workplace relations extremists.’
 
The Fair Work Amendment (State Referral and Other Measures) Bill 2009 must pass the Australian Parliament by the end of the year for FWA to commence on 1 January 2010 as promised.
 
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