IR referrals will have to start again if Bill blocked: Gillard

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IR referrals will have to start again if Bill blocked: Gillard

Industrial Relations Minister Julia Gillard has warned that if Federal legislation to facilitate the States referring their IR powers to the Commonwealth is not passed, the State referrals will lapse and the whole process will have to begin again.

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Industrial Relations Minister Julia Gillard has warned that if Federal legislation to facilitate the States referring their IR powers to the Commonwealth is not passed, the State referrals will lapse and the whole process will have to begin again.
 
‘That will mean that, to build this again next year, we will need all of those parliaments to legislate again,’ she told Federal Parliament yesterday.
 
‘Fragile’ political system
 
‘I think we are all aware of the fragility of political systems, of the changes that elections and ministerial changes can bring. It is possible that we will never be able to put this together again if it is not completed this year.
 
‘The Liberal Party are opposing this bill. You would think, on the cusp of a major microeconomic national reform, with those States having legislated, that you would get with the program and you would deliver this Bill.
 
‘You would assume, if you were going to seek to delay it or debate it, that you would have a very clear idea of what you were trying to achieve in doing so.’
 
Gillard said the shadow minister for workplace relations, Michael Keenan, has not even sought a briefing on the Bill but is opposed to it.
 
‘The shadow minister for workplace relations and the Liberal Party have indicated vaguely in the public domain that they intend to amend the Bill, but they have not provided the government with the amendments,’ she said.
 
‘Here is a piece of national reform, called for by business organisations around the country, being held up by the Liberal Party, for what?
 
Mysterious reason’
 
‘For some mysterious reason that they refuse to tell us even in the form of amendments, causing all of the chaos and uncertainty that we will see for employers next year.’
 
Gillard said Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, should listen to the voices from ACCI, AMMA, and the NFF, ‘who do not want small businesses next year to wake up in jurisdictional limbo, who do not want next year to be reliant on the anachronism and rigidities of state based awards, but want to move to the simple modern award systems’.
 
‘The challenge is there for the Liberal Party: whether as a rabble in opposition they want to look like an absolute shadow of their former selves, embracing economic vandalism, or whether they want to do the right thing in the remaining days of this parliament and deliver this Bill. We await the answer.’
 
Gillard said business organisations were ‘screaming out’ for the IR reforms.
 
Opposition ‘not responsible’ for legislation
 
In response, Keenan said the Opposition is not responsible for the Government’s legislative program.
 
‘Your Senate leadership has been invited to provide the Opposition with a list of bills they wish to debate this week,’ Keenan said in a letter to Gillard. ‘They have been unable to do so.
 
‘Rather than expect the Opposition to set your legislative agenda, perhaps you might like to talk to Labor's Senate leadership and let them know you consider this bill urgent.
 
‘We remain very happy to debate it in the Senate as soon as you can get your act together.’ In the NSW Parliament, IR Minister John Hatzistergos pointed out that Keenan resides in WA.
 
The WA Government is the only State government to have refused to refer its IR powers to the Commonwealth.
 
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