States with own IR laws will have to answer to business: Gillard

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States with own IR laws will have to answer to business: Gillard

IR Minister Julia Gillard says States which opt not to refer their IR laws to the Commonwealth will have to explain to business why they ‘think it’s fine for their state to have competing systems, duplication, confusion, and two sets of laws’.

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IR Minister Julia Gillard says states which opt not to refer their IR laws to the Commonwealth will have to explain to business why they ‘think it’s fine for their state to have competing systems, duplication, confusion, and two sets of laws’.
 
Speaking on ABC radio, Gillard said she is having discussions with the NSW and Queensland IR Ministers over the referral of those States’ workplace laws.
 
This week South Australia and Tasmania agreed to hand over their private sector IR laws to be part of a national system. Victoria has already done so.
 
WA is currently having a review of its laws and their relationship with the national laws, and is not expected to make a decision on referral until the review is complete.
 
‘Very optimistic’
 
Gillard said she is ‘very optimistic’ that she will get referrals ‘from a large number of states’.
 
‘That would be an important move for a seamless national economy, an important move for business that has complained long and loud about the red tape and duplication of having competing workplace relations systems,’ she said.
 
Journalist: ‘OK, but a large number of states is not all states, is not a national system. If there are any hold out states, can you or will you override them?’
 
Gillard: ‘We have legislated to the full extent of our constitutional competence. We’ve used the corporations law.That’s the way of bringing our workplace relations laws to the maximum number of businesses and the maximum number of employees.
 
Duplication and confusion otherwise
 
‘If a state chooses to hold out against the national system, then it will be a matter for them to explain to the business community why they think it’s fine for their state to have competing systems, duplication, confusion, and two sets of laws.’
 
SA unions welcome move
 
Meanwhile, the SA union movement has welcomed the referral decision by the State Government, saying it has been done in a way that guarantees South Australians will continue to have a say about industrial laws for their state.
 
SA union secretary Janet Giles said the State Government position will mean:
  • it will be a ‘text based’ referral of powers, allowing the State Government to continue to have a say about IR law into the future;
  • dual appointments of state Industrial Commissions so they can deal with federal and state matters;
  • State Government employees and Local Government employees will continue to be governed by state IR law;
  • young people and apprentices will still be protected under state law;
  • the health and community services sector will be able to decide the best jurisdiction for their needs through continued negotiations with the Commonwealth.

‘The State Government position is in line with the wishes of unions in SA, and ensures that we have a new fair work law system that also takes into account the local needs of our state,’ Giles said.

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