Govt flexes corporations muscle – ‘do it our way, or else’

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Govt flexes corporations muscle – ‘do it our way, or else’

The Howard Government is already moving to take advantage of its new powers over the States, handed down on Tuesday by the High Court in its WorkChoices decision, by creating a national legal regulation system for lawyers.

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The Howard Government is already moving to take advantage of its new powers over the States, handed down on Tuesday by the High Court in its WorkChoices decision, by creating a national legal regulation system for lawyers.

The High Court ruled that the Federal Government had unrestricted powers relating to corporations, and therefore its new national industrial relations system was constitutionally valid. All points of challenge by the States and the trade union movement were rejected.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock yesterday announced that the Howard Government would be imposing a national regulation system on lawyers; however it may do it through coercion - by threat of national laws - rather than by legislative decree.

‘It ought to be simple to have a system in which you have a practising certificate in one place and it will allow you to work right around Australia,’ Ruddock told ABC radio.

Range of difficulties

‘But the difficulties are that if you decide to do it by anything other than a single piece of legislation, you’re relying upon eight different pieces of legislation.

‘And if you decide in implementing those measures, that you have different drafting techniques, you need to nuance it a little, you have to number the paragraphs in different ways and in implementing the national legal profession,’ he said.

‘This is what has occurred. It inevitably creates a range of difficulties which you wouldn’t experience if you had adopted one piece of legislation.

‘Now, my view is that the national legal professional implementation shows that without an enormous degree of cooperation, there are difficulties.’

Ruddock said he was going to continue to work with the states on the national legal regulation system, ‘but, it will be in the context that people can speculate about whether or not the Commonwealth, if it was so minded, might be able to deal with it in a different way’.

‘People can speculate’

‘I’m not... I’m not asserting that we can, I’m simply saying people can speculate about those issues,’ he said.

Ruddock indicated threat of a national defamation system imposed by the Federal Government had motivated the States to agree on a coordinated approach in that area.

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