States have too much say on national IR system: ACCI

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States have too much say on national IR system: ACCI

A leading employers’ organisation is concerned that the States will have too much say in the development and operation of a national workplace relations system.

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A leading employers’ organisation is concerned that the States will have too much say in the development and operation of a national workplace relations system.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) chief executive, Peter Anderson, said the principles agreed to at last week's Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC) ‘risk giving too much ground to the States’.

Unstable system — a possibility

‘Business is concerned that an excessive role for the States could make the national system unstable whenever political cycles in the States change,’ Anderson said.

Under the principles agreed to, the States will be able to elect if and how they opt into the national system; for example, by full referral of powers, text-based referral, mirror legislation or harmonisation.

It will also be open to States to include specific issues and/or particular areas in the national system beyond those currently covered, eg public sector employees.

It was agreed that the WRMC will oversee the operation of a national workplace relations system.

As well, any amendments to the national IR system after it comes into operation on 1 January 2010 will also have to go before the WRMC, possibly even before they are sent to be drafted.

Two systems not wanted

‘Mirror legislation (Queensland, 1997) rather than referral of powers (Victoria, 1996 and 2005) ended up in two systems, not one, once governments changed,’ Anderson said.

‘The issue should not now be left just to governments or their officials. Representatives of employers and employees are critical stakeholders.’

Anderson said ACCI believes that a meeting of the tripartite National Workplace Relations Consultative Committee (NWRCC) should be convened to discuss the principles. A special joint meeting between the workplace relations ministers and the NWRCC should then be held.


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