NSW agrees to refer IR powers to Canberra

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NSW agrees to refer IR powers to Canberra

New South Wales has agreed to refer its industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth, meaning that only Western Australia is holding out from a national workplace relations system.

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New South Wales has agreed to refer its industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth, meaning that only Western Australia is holding out from a national workplace relations system.
 
Legislation referring its IR powers passed through the South Australian Parliament yesterday. Queensland has already referred its powers as did Tasmania last week. Victoria referred its powers during the 1990s.
 
New South Wales has now agreed that along with 500,000 private sector employees, the state’s electricity and water workers will be transferred to the national system.
 
However it seems local government, police and teachers will remain in the state system.
 
As part of the deal, seven NSW people will be appointed to Fair Work Australia.
 
‘Step forward’
 
Federal IR Minister Julia Gillard welcomed the move, saying it was a significant step forward in achieving a productive, streamlined national economy.
 
‘This historic reform will end the overlap and duplication of State and Federal workplace relations systems,’ she said.
 
‘It will end inefficiency and uncertainty for businesses operating across jurisdictions.’
 
‘It will make it easier for small businesses to do business by removing red tape and legal complexity.'
 
‘It will ensure all Australian employees working in the private sector benefit from the Government’s new workplace relations system, Fair Work Australia.’
 
WA at ‘distinct disadvantage’
 
Gillard said Western Australia is the only state that has refused to refer — putting WA businesses and employees at a distinct disadvantage.
 
‘This is despite the Liberals repeatedly declaring their devotion to a national workplace relations system for the private sector,’ she said.
 
‘Inevitable’, says NSW unions
 
The Secretary of UnionsNSW, Mark Lennon, said the decision was inevitable — but it would have been better if electricity and water workers had remained under the state system.
 
‘The logic is that for good public administration, the state government should have the ability to legislate and arbitrate industrial relations matters for all of their employees,’ he said.
 
‘That should include those employees in the electricity and water sectors.’
 
Half-hearted
 
Paul Ritchie from the NSW Business Chamber said it is a half-hearted decision by the state government.
 
‘They've in fact excluded all state employees and all employees of local government from the federal system,’ he said.
 
‘It means some of the innovations in terms of flexibility in workplaces in terms of agreement making and so on simply will be lost.’
 
SA Bill scrapes through by one vote
 
The SA referral legislation passed through the Legislative Council last night by one vote after the Liberal Opposition and Family First opposed it.
 
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