Progress of legislation

News

Progress of legislation

As mentioned in HR Link 117/99, the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act 1999 has completed its passage through both Houses of Parliament.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

 

Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act 1999

As mentioned in HR Link 117/99, the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act 1999 has completed its passage through both Houses of Parliament. The Bill passed the Senate with amendments on 20 September 1999, and the House of Representatives approved those amendments on 23 September 1999.

The essence of the Amendment Act is that it changes the hierarchy of procedures utilised in the resolution of federal human rights complaints. A human rights complaint commences with conciliation before the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). In the past, once this process had been exhausted, a hearing before HREOC would result in what was considered to be a binding determination. The 1995 High Court decision in Brandy v HREOC & Orsheld that HREOC could not make enforceable decisions. As an administrative body, decisions of HREOC were held by the High Court to be of a recommendatory nature, and as such were not binding on parties. To acquire a binding decision, parties were required to have the matter heard before the Federal Court. The Amendment Act eliminates the middle process. Rather than having a matter heard in both the Commission and then the Federal Court, once conciliation before HREOC has failed, parties to a human rights matter may now elect to access the Federal Court directly.

Concerns were raised in relation to the cost of running Federal Court cases. The Government responded to these concerns by providing that the only court fee, which would apply to human rights matters in the Federal Court, is a nominal filing fee of $50. In terms of cost rulings the Court will have the usual discretion to award costs. The Bill awaits Royal Assent.

Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Youth Employment) Bill 1999

Having been amended in the House of Representatives following a deal brokered between the Opposition and the Government, the Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Youth Employment) Bill 1999, passed the Senate on 2 September 1999. The Bill received Royal Assent on 22 September 1999, whereupon most of the Act’s provisions commenced.

The new Act amends aspects of the Workplace Relations Act (WRA) and the Workplace Relations and Other Legislation Amendment . The amendments include:

· The insertion of s3(aa) into the objects of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, whereby the principal object of the Actwould be accomplished by protecting the competitive position of young people in the labour market, promoting youth employment and reducing youth unemployment.

· The variation of s88A(d) and the insertion of s88B(3)(ba) to reflect the fact that one of the AIRC’s functions is to protect the competitive position of young people, to promote youth employment and to assist in reducing youth unemployment, through appropriate junior wage provisions. This is to be achieved by the AIRC considering junior rates matters on a case-by-case approach.

· The insertion of s88B(4) and s88B(5) to permanently exempt junior rates of pay and certain types of trainee wage provisions from the operation of provisions intended to prevent and eliminate age discrimination in awards and agreements;

· The insertion of a new s113(3A) and s113(3B) to clarify that parties to an award may apply under s113of the WRA to include, vary or remove a junior rate of pay in an award. Under such applications the onus is upon the party making the application.

· The repeal of s143(1E) which presently limits the exemption on junior rates of pay to 22 June 2000. This would permanently exempt awards containing junior rates of pay from the operation of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Act.

· The insertion of new criteria into Sch 5 of the WROLAso that when reviewing an award in the context of simplification, the AIRC must ensure that the award protects the competitive position of young people in the labour market.

 
Post details