NSW Libs will give IR to Federal Government, says Brogden

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NSW Libs will give IR to Federal Government, says Brogden

NSW Liberal Leader John Brogden today announced that a State Liberal/Nationals Coalition Government would refer a majority of the State’s industrial relations powers to the Federal Government.

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NSW Liberal Leader John Brogden today announced that a State Liberal/Nationals Coalition Government would refer a majority of the State’s industrial relations powers to the Federal Government. 

The move has been welcomed by the Federal Government and business but bitterly opposed by the union movement, with Unions NSW Secretary John Robertson warning that a hostile takeover of the State industrial relations system would lead to a direct deterioration in public services. 

Brogden told the Millennium Forum this afternoon that he would legislate to refer a majority of our industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth Government if elected in 2007.

The legislation would be based on the 1996 Victorian Government model. 

Unclear elements

A spokesman for Brogden told WorkplaceInfo that it was not known yet what powers would be transferred to the Commonwealth. 

‘I don’t think it has been gone into in that detail yet,’ the spokesman said.  

Brogden told the Forum the referral of industrial relations powers will be made on terms which ‘protect the rights and entitlements of employees’. 

‘We will maintain NSW’s right to recall the powers if a future federal government fails to honour its obligations and responsibilities,’ he said. 

National system needed

Brogden said a nationally co-ordinated uniform system of industrial relations is vital for the well being of the NSW economy and NSW employees. 

‘The existing system has contributed to NSW under-performing over the past decade, to the point where we now have the highest unemployment rate of any mainland state,’ he said.

‘This is about taking every measure necessary to create opportunities for people to work and businesses to prosper by reducing or eradicating bureaucratic overlap, inconsistent workplaces entitlements and costly red tape. 

‘Unfortunately Bob Carr and his tired, old Government lack the will to implement these sensible proposals because the same unions that give him millions of dollars at every election oppose them. 

‘A Liberal/Nationals Coalition Government won’t be about protecting the unions, it will be about rebuilding NSW.’ 

Union reaction

Unions NSW Secretary Robertson said working people and their families in NSW would be the big losers if the State system were destroyed. 

‘This move would take rights at work away from more than a million workers in NSW, workers who deliver vital services to the people of this state,’ he said. 

‘It would also lead to a reduction in safeguards around the delivery of services that are included in many state awards and agreements.’   

These included:

  • an end to maximum class sizes in schools

  • an end to reasonable workloads for nurses in hospitals

  • and an end to appeal rights for NSW police officers

‘I suspect the Opposition Leader does not understand the role of the NSW industrial relations system plays in guaranteeing service delivery in this state,’ Robertson said. 

‘If he did he would not be trading off the state system so quickly. By bowing to pressure from John Howard, John Brogden is selling out the people of NSW.’ 

Australian Business Limited welcomes announcement

Leading business organisation Australian Business Limited welcomed Brogden’s announcement. 

‘The NSW workplace relations system is complex, inflexible and costs jobs. The State Opposition should be commended for this common sense approach’, said Mark Bethwaite, Chief Executive of Australian Business Limited. 

‘It is difficult to do business in NSW. We pay the highest taxes, the highest rate of payroll tax and highest workers compensation costs.  

‘At the same time, NSW businesses are facing OH&S legislation which is impossible to comply with, are concerned about draft workplace fatalities legislation and the workplace relations system is cumbersome and complex.’

An ABL survey earlier this year showed that 92% of businesses supported plans for the NSW Government to work with the Federal Government in developing a simplified, unified workplace relations system. 

Federal Minister's support

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews said Brogden’s announcement was ‘a sensible acknowledgement that in a modern, national economy, six different industrial relations jurisdictions just do not make sense’. 

‘A majority of NSW employees already work under the federal system,’ he said. ‘Duplication of state and federal systems results in extra expenses incurred by employers having to contend with overlapping systems of regulation.  

‘The state and federal systems are often in conflict and impose different obligations on employers and employees. 

‘The Commonwealth encourages other states to consider following Brogden’s lead and will work constructively with any state government of either political persuasion to ensure the benefits of a single workplace relations system can be realised.’ 

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