Law reform enquiry to focus on workplace relations


Law reform enquiry to focus on workplace relations

The federal government says workplace relations is one of three focus areas for its review of Commonwealth laws by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC).


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The federal government says workplace relations is one of three focus areas for its review of Commonwealth laws by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC).
The ALRC will review Commonwealth laws that “encroach upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges” and will specifically inquire into laws relating to workplace relations along with those relating to commercial and corporate regulation and environmental regulation.
The final terms of reference announced last week by the attorney general, George Brandis, state the purpose of the review is to find whether any encroachment on rights, freedoms and privileges of Commonwealth law is “appropriately justified”.
ACTU assistant secretary Tim Lyons has hit out at the review, saying it duplicates the proposed Productivity Commission inquiry into the Fair Work Act.
“This is now the third inquiry into workplace relations and unions from a government that promised to get rid of red tape.
“It is deeply hypocritical that the terms of reference for this inquiry express concern about laws that restrict ‘traditional’ legal protections like the right to silence at the same time as the government is trying to force through the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) legislation that abrogates those rights for building workers,” he said.
Self-incrimination, procedural fairness...
Laws under review will include those which:
    • Reverse or shift the burden of proof;
    • Deny procedural fairness to persons affected by the exercise of public power;
    • Exclude the right to claim the privilege against self-incrimination;
    • Abrogate client legal privilege;
    • Apply strict or absolute liability to all physical elements of a criminal offence;
    • Interfere with freedom of speech;
    • Interfere with freedom on religion;
    • Interfere with vested property rights;
    • Interfere with freedom of association;
    • Interfere with freedom of movement;
    • Disregard common law protection of personal reputation;
    • Authorise the commission of a tort;
    • Inappropriately delegate legislative power to the executive;
    • Give executive immunities a wide application;
    • Retrospectively change legal rights and obligations;
    • Create offences with retrospective application;
    • Alter criminal law practices based on the principle of a fair trial;
    • Permit an appeal from an acquittal;
    • Restrict access to the courts; and
    • Interfere with any other similar legal right, freedom or privilege.
The ALRC has been asked to provide an interim report by December 2014 and a final report by December 2015.
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