Parliament debates last IR legislation for year

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Parliament debates last IR legislation for year

The Federal Government hopes to wrap up debate on three pieces of legislation this week, before Parliament rises for the year.

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The Federal Government hopes to wrap up debate on three pieces of legislation this week, before Parliament rises for the year.

Tomorrow the Senate debates the Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2002, which would introduce various technical and housekeeping-type amendments and allow for electronic lodgement of applications for certification of agreements. 

That Bill is non-controversial and thus proceeding by agreement.

That debate comes only days after a senior deputy president of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission questioned the wisdom of allowing electronic or e-hearings to gain bearing in the Commission.

Justice Paul Munro said in a decision handed down on Friday (29 November) that while he was receptive to modifying and streamlining processes where practicable, he held concerns about the erosion of confidence in the openness of the public hearing system.

While this new technology was mainly being utilised by newer members of the Commission, he said, there lay a ‘cautionary tale’ in examples of agreements that amounted to ‘shams’ attacking conditions, which could only be picked up in public hearings.

‘Failure to detect sham, or unduly disadvantageous agreements is not in my view a trivial matter. Demands for expedient process should not obscure risks that exist or arise from such practices,’ Justice Munro said.

Also tomorrow, the House of Representatives will debate the Workplace Relations (Fair Termination) Bill 2002, which aims to exempt casuals from accessing unfair dismissal remedies in the first 12 months of employment. This attempted move to legislate on the issue comes after the Government hastily introduced new Regulations to the Workplace Relations Act following last year's Hamzy case (see 320/2001).

And on Thursday, the House will debate the Workplace Relations (Transmission of Business) Bill 2002, under which the AIRC would have power to make an order that a certified agreement does not bind an employer as a result of a transmission of business, or only binds the employer to a specified extent or for a specified period.

Both Houses of Parliament rise for the year on 12 December.

 
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