Ridout backflips on IR referrals, calls for Bill to be passed

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Ridout backflips on IR referrals, calls for Bill to be passed

Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout has done a backflip on the State referral IR legislation, and is now calling for the Opposition to pass it.

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Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout has done a backflip on the State referral IR legislation, and is now calling for the Opposition to pass it.
 
Two weeks ago Ridout said the legislation should not go ahead because it gave too much power to the States.
 
State veto
 
Ridout was mainly concerned about the veto on Fair Work Act 2009 amendments the States have once they have referred their IR powers to the Commonwealth.
 
Under the deal with the Federal Government amendments must have the support of two thirds of the States and Territories.
 
‘Such a power shift could end up being a major problem for business if problems arise with the legislation and vital amendments cannot be made,’ Ridout said
 
Ridout’s stand disappointed other major employer organisations such as ACCI, AMMA, NFF, and NSW Business Chamber, who want the legislation passed and a national IR system for all private sector employers and employees.
 
Under pressure
 
Ridout would also have come under pressure from the Federal Government, with which she has a closer relationship than any other employer organisation head.
 
Yesterday Ridout succumbed to the pressure and issued a statement calling for the legislation to be passed.
 
‘The Fair Work Amendment (State Referrals and Other Measures) Bill is currently before the Senate and Ai Group recognises the enormous difficulties which will be created if the Bill does not pass this year,’ Ridout said.
 
‘We recognise that agreements reached between the Federal and State Governments outside of the Bill have been signed and are not open to renegotiation.
 
Egg can’t be unscrambled
 
‘Therefore, while Ai Group maintains a number of concerns about the understandings reached and the potential difficulties for future amendments to the Fair Work legislation, the egg cannot be unscrambled and consequently, this should be recognised in the current debate in the Parliament.
 
‘Ai Group strongly supports a completely national IR system achieved through the referral of State powers. This has been a longstanding policy position of Ai Group which we have pressed for decades.’
 
Opposition in worse position
 
The 180 degree change in Ridout’s position puts the Opposition in an even worse position in its own opposition to the Bill.
 
The Coalition has come under sustained attack from IR Minister Julia Gillard, who has pointed out that if the legislation is not passed this year the State referrals lapse and the whole matter will have to start again.
 
The Opposition has also criticised the veto powers of the States, but with no employer organisation now backing their stance, the Coalition has little option but to pass the legislation.
 
Any further refusal will result in them copping the blame for the collapse of the current referrals, and the anger of employers not certain which jurisdiction their workers come under.
 
NSW legislation introduced
 
Meanwhile the NSW Industrial Relations (Commonwealth Powers) Bill 2009 has been introduced into State Parliament.
 
The object of this Bill is to refer certain matters relating to workplace relations to the Commonwealth Parliament so as to enable the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws about those matters.
 
The Bill operates by reference to certain text of the federal Fair Work Act 2009 that will apply that Act (and future amendments to that Act) to all employees other than State public sector and local government sector employees.
 
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