Qld ready to join High Court challenge to IR laws

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Qld ready to join High Court challenge to IR laws

Queensland is ready to join NSW’s High Court challenge against the WorkChoices laws, saying the challenge deserves to succeed ‘in the interests of Australia’s social and economic future’.

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Queensland is ready to join NSW’s High Court challenge against the WorkChoices laws, saying the challenge deserves to succeed ‘in the interests of Australia’s social and economic future’.

The nature of the challenge

NSW filed its challenge with the High Court yesterday, and Qld Industrial Relations Minister Tom Barton said the challenge would be joined shortly by one from the Queensland Government.

‘From day one the Beattie Government has been at the forefront of challenging this draconian Federal legislation,’ he said.

‘Queensland’s legal team is finetuning our High Court challenge, but it will centre on issues surrounding the constitution and states rights and the corporations power.

‘We cannot let these extreme laws continue simply because they threaten to undermine the economic successes we have achieved in Queensland, as well as the massive employment growth and the historically low level of industrial disputation.’

Barton said that if the Federal Government is allowed to use the corporations law to override state laws ‘it will be able to remove almost every area of state influence and control’.

‘Anything involving corporations or that affects corporations will be up for grabs by a Federal Government out of control,’ he said.

Barton said the corporations power in the Constitution was never intended to be a Trojan horse to take over the states.

‘And the constitution never intended the major divisions of legislative power in the Federation to be corporations and non-corporations,’ he said.

Barton said Queensland’s High Court challenge would take into account the more than 300 amendments recently made to the legislation by federal Parliament.

Labor’s IR spokesman Stephen Smith said he expected Western Australia would soon also mount a challenge, and other States would follow.

Federal Government reaction

However Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews said that instead of mounting High Court challenges to the new WorkChoices Act the NSW government should ‘embrace this sensible, national reform and in doing so save itself $40 million annually by referring its industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth’.

‘In fact, with the NSW Budget being in the red by almost $1 billion, it would make economic sense for it to refer its powers so that the $40 million it spends on a rump industrial relations system could be used for schools, hospitals or policing,’ Andrews said.

‘Similarly, Queensland, which also announced a High Court challenge today, could save itself $30 million annually. South Australia could save $16 million, Tasmania $2 million and Western Australia $15 million.’

Andrews said the Commonwealth is confident of its legal position regarding the use of corporations power of the Constitution.

‘It has been used in relation to workplace relations legislation since 1993,’ he said.

‘There are clear benefits in a system based on this power, which removes the need for interstate industrial disputes.’

Related

NSW challenges WorkChoices in High Court, makes deal with unions

 

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