NSW first to challenge new IR laws in High Court

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NSW first to challenge new IR laws in High Court

NSW has become the first State to declare it will challenge the Federal Government’s new IR legislation in the High Court.

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NSW has become the first State to declare it will challenge the Federal Government’s new IR legislation in the High Court. 

‘I am launching this challenge on behalf of all NSW workers and their families, whose rights, lifestyles and living standards are being attacked by the Howard government,’ Premier Morris Iemma said today.  

The Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie, has also indicated his State is likely to challenge the new laws. NSW is discussing with other States whether the challenge to the Commonwealth legislation will ultimately be a joint action.  

Senior counsel

The NSW challenge will be led by Solicitor General Michael Sexton SC and barrister Bret Walker SC. Walker is a constitutional law expert who was formerly President of the Law Council of Australia and the NSW Bar Association.  

'Unconstitutional' says Iemma

‘NSW will argue before the High Court that this legislation is not only unfair, it is unconstitutional,’ Iemma said. 

‘NSW workers and their families stand to lose penalty rates, public holidays, shift loadings and a range of other benefits that are critical to the Australian lifestyle.

‘When some employers take advantage of these new arrangements to strip their workers of wages and conditions, it will force even the best employer to match them in a race to the bottom.’  

Iemma was accompanied by NSW public sector fire-fighters, nurses, police, and ambulance officers when he made his statement at Number One Fire Station in Castlereagh Street, Sydney.  

‘If these frontline emergency service workers are forced into the new federal system, they stand to lose award conditions that have been developed over a long period,’  Iemma said.

Conditions under threat

Iemma said the conditions under threat are:

  • Special death and disability benefits for police and fire-fighters;

  • Provisions in the nurses award that guarantee reasonable workloads and ensure quality of service for the community;

  • Preparation time for teachers so lessons can be effective for students;

  • NSW Industrial Relations Commission appeals for police, and;

  • Reasonable hours protections for ambulance officers.

Related 

National IR system may take 10 years to get through High Court 

 

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