WorkChoices changes a product of lack of proper debate, says Labor

News

WorkChoices changes a product of lack of proper debate, says Labor

Today's changes to the WorkChoices legislation would not have been necessary if the Federal Government had allowed 'sensible' committee debates on the Act, the Opposition said.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Today's changes to the WorkChoices legislation would not have been necessary if the Federal Government had allowed 'sensible' committee debates on the Act, the Opposition said.

Shadow IR spokesman, Stephen Smith, said that by the Government's own admission it is fixing up 'unintended consequences'.

'When you ram legislation through the Parliament, driven by politics and ideology, you always make mistakes - whether they are mistakes of policy or technical mistakes,' Smith said. 'But it didn't take the opportunity of having a serious and sensible Committee stage, either through a proper exhaustive Senate Committee report, or an exhaustive Committee stage in the House of Representatives.

Dangers for workers

'So, some of the proposals that the Government are picking up are proposals that have been brought to their attention by business or by unions, where the Government has made mistakes of drafting.'

Smith said he saw some dangers for workers in the changes.

He said the redundancy changes were modelled on transmission of business provisions, and he was concerned they will not operate on the ground and in practice.

The provision to stand employees down seemed to shift the balance in favour of the employer 'and the great danger here is that we'll see a further undermining of Australians' job security'.

Unprotected

'We do have stand-down provisions in a number of awards or agreements but they are stand-down provisions that have been worked through cooperatively by the workforce and the employer,' he said.

Smith said the danger in workers being able to cash in their sick leave 'is that in the end you leave workers unprotected if a calamity occurs and you don't have sufficient sick leave in reserve'.

'I understand the nature of the proposal. But we always need to make sure that sick leave is there and utilised for the purpose for which it was originally installed.'

ACCI comments

Peter Hendy, Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), said the changes 'will fix a handful of legal problems or unintended consequences' that have been picked up during the first eight months of WorkChoices, as both employers and employees have brought their employment practices into line with the new laws.

More changes to come

He said many of the issues were raised with the Government by ACCI and employer organisations earlier this year.

'There are still some outstanding implementation issues, and others that will undoubtedly arise,' Hendy said. 'The drafting of amendments consequential on today's announcements will need to be assessed to ensure they match the announced policy intent. Once finalised, they should be enacted by the Government and the Parliament at the earliest opportunity.'

Smith said the Opposition will need to see the detail when the legislation and the regulations are presented.

High Court case on WorkChoices - tomorrow

The High Court case on the constitutionality of the WorkChoices legislation will be handed down tomorrow - 14 November.

WorkplaceInfo will publish a series of articles explaining the impact of the decision.

Related

WorkChoices rules on leave, redundancy and stand-downs to change

High Court: WorkChoices submissions draw to a close

  

 

Post details