Qld lodges High Court challenge to ‘Trojan horse’ IR laws

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Qld lodges High Court challenge to ‘Trojan horse’ IR laws

The Queensland State Government has lodged a High Court challenge to the Federal Government’s WorkChoices IR laws based on issues surrounding the Australian Constitution, States’ rights and the intent of Corporations power.

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The Queensland State Government has lodged a High Court challenge to the Federal Government’s WorkChoices IR laws based on issues surrounding the Australian Constitution, States’ rights and the intent of Corporations power.

Too wide an application of Corporations power

‘If the Federal Government is allowed to use the Corporations power to override state laws, as it is attempting to do with WorkChoices, it will set a precedent enabling it to interfere with almost every sphere of traditional state jurisdiction,’ Qld Premier Peter Beattie said.

‘The new federal industrial relations laws represent one of the greatest attacks on Australia’s constitutional arrangements since Federation.

‘This has widespread implications for the nature of power sharing between the states and Commonwealth - town planning, environmental controls, tourism and all aspects of business and industry would be susceptible to Federal Government control.’

NSW, WA and SA challenges lodged

New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia have already lodged their challenges to the WorkChoices legislation and Victoria and Tasmania are expected to follow.

Beattie said the State Government’s legal advice confirms there are strong grounds to argue the Federal Government’s industrial relations laws are unconstitutional.

Federal takeover

‘There are grounds to argue that WorkChoices gives the Federal Government undue control over the normal activities of the States by subjecting employment relationships entirely to federal control,’ he said.

‘The corporations power in the Constitution was never intended to be a Trojan horse to take over the States.

‘We are also taking this action because these new laws will hurt Queensland workers and Queensland families by driving down wages and conditions.’

Beattie said many areas of the WorkChoices laws, such as the lack of safeguards for making agreements and unfair dismissals, have the potential to exploit workers, especially vulnerable and low-skilled workers.

‘There is no need to replace Queensland’s industrial relations system, which is strong and works well for both employees and employers,’ Beattie said.

Timetable

Qld Industrial Relations Minister Tom Barton said that given the importance of this case to the division of constitutional power within the Federation, the Qld Government would expect the High Court to deal with it swiftly.

‘We’d expect the High Court to start hearings in the first half of this year and hope to have a decision later in the year,’ he said.

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