New IR laws could ‘corrupt’ police, says union

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New IR laws could ‘corrupt’ police, says union

The federal police union has attacked the Howard Government’s new IR legislation, saying provisions of the legislation could lead to corruption within the force.

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The federal police union has attacked the Howard Government’s new IR legislation, saying provisions of the legislation could lead to corruption within the force. 

It fears the secrecy provisions of AWAs could be used to corrupt individual officers because there is no transparency in what they are paid. 

Inappropriate for law enforcement bodies

It also says the use of Corporation powers, which are used to regulate for-profit organisations, are inappropriate for law enforcement bodies. 

‘Roles and functions of government where conduct determined as integral to be free from corrupt intent or profit will be regulated by [these laws] as if they were commercial and profit driven relationships,’ the submission says. 

Submission to Government

In the submission to the Government on the legislation on 9 November, the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) said it objected to the application of secret remuneration agreements (AWAs) to policing and law enforcement roles ‘where the independent officer/constable can be corruptly influenced without independent scrutiny’. 

The AFPA specifically points out it is not opposed to IR reform, and had ‘embraced’ the 1996 Workplace Relations Act. 

‘In fact we welcomed the then Minister Peter Reith as the keynote speaker to the AFPA National Council later in the year after the passing of the new Workplace Relations Act,’ the submission says. 

It also points out that it had negotiated AWAs during the establishment phase of the Air Security Officers program to create stability within the program. 

Corporations power should apply to commercial entities

The AFPA said the IR legislation is ‘an attempt to extend the scope of the industrial system through the Corporations power - driven as it is by its objective to underpin trade, profit and commerce’. 

The AFPA questions whether such a framework and provisions should be imposed on Federal Police employees, customs officers, Australian Crime Commission officers and other government law enforcement officers ‘in whom the public demands confidence in the conduct of their office’.

Amendments required

The submission says the elements of the [legislation] which most starkly require amendment for police and law enforcement personnel are:

  1. The application of secret remuneration agreements (AWAs) to policing and law enforcement roles, where the independent officer/constable can be corruptly influenced without independent scrutiny. 

  2. Re-definition of ‘duress’ to allow an employer to impose an AWA as a condition of employment; 

  3. Unilateral rights for an employer to terminate an agreement without a public interest test; 

  4. Use of 6 months prison through criminal sanction as an underpinning provision to facilitate the negotiation of and secrecy of AWA and employee non-union agreements; 

  5. Expansion of termination without rights being made possible through the ‘operational’ provisions of the Bill;

  6. The imposition of an employer’s religious beliefs over employees to deny unions a right of entry and therefore a capacity to represent the employees should they desire; 

  7. Overt limitations on the content of existing arrangements, through the Bill providing the Employment Advocate with the capacity to strike out provisions of existing industrial agreements;

  8. A mechanism for the content of future agreements to be limited by regulation of the Minister; 

  9. The disputes procedures preventing parties requesting the AIRC to arbitrate and issue orders on disputes, even when they agree;

  10. The enhanced limitations for police and essential services employees to a right of protected action in bargaining, with a diminished access to arbitration and the scope of matters that can be arbitrated; and, 

  11. The confused distinction between the rights of representatives between the union and non-union streams of the Bill. 

Full submission

The full submission can be found on AFPA website.

Related  

Role of future agreements: proposed workplace legislation 

Federal IR changes 2005 

 

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