‘Unique’ chance for national IR system: ACCI

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‘Unique’ chance for national IR system: ACCI

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called for the completion of a national industrial relations system by 2010, saying the current political circumstances are uniquely favourable to such a move.

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The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called for the completion of a national industrial relations system by 2010, saying the current political circumstances are uniquely favourable to such a move.

In making the call, Peter Anderson,  ACCI acting chief executive, highlighted the ‘unique opportunity presented by the renewed vigour of the COAG process, the Rudd Government’s planned overhaul of industrial relations laws and the current synergy created by Commonwealth and State Labor governments’.

An ACCI policy review, released today, titled ‘Can a "New Federalism" Deliver a Durable National IR Framework?’, argues that the declining coverage of State industrial relations systems (estimated at between 6.7% and 11.9% of private sector employment) makes the cost to taxpayers and duplication of regulation unviable on both efficiency and equity grounds.

ACCI’s National Council (comprising presidents of 35 Chambers and industry associations) in Sydney last Friday decided to maintain support for a national industrial relations system, notwithstanding the proposed phased rollback of many parts of WorkChoices.

Distinction between content and framework

‘There is a clear distinction between the content of a national IR system, and having a national IR framework,’ Anderson said. ‘Industry and business organisations consider that a durable national industrial relations framework remains in the national interest, even though its content may vary from time to time.’

Anderson said that even at the height of the debate last year about WorkChoices, a large measure of national political and industrial consensus remained over the move towards a national industrial relations system, ‘especially after the November 2006 High Court decision validating the use of the corporations power to regulate industrial matters’.

‘The ACCI Policy Review and the accompanying National Council resolution recognises the need for Commonwealth and State negotiation but cautions that a model recently proposed by the NSW Government confers to the States a disproportionate veto over future policy, which could make the system unresponsive to changing economic or social circumstances,’ Anderson said.


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