28/01/2009 - 15:32

State against full federal IR takeover

28/01/2009 - 15:32

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The WA government has decided against referring its remaining industrial relations powers to the federal government, instead proceeding with a review of the state's workplace laws.

The WA government has decided against referring its remaining industrial relations powers to the federal government, instead proceeding with a review of the state's workplace laws.

Commerce Minister Troy Buswell said today the state government would also look into an overhaul of the large bureaucracy administering workplace laws. .

"We understand there is a federal reform process in train, however, there will be no relinquishment of state powers while there is a requirement among Western Australian employers and employees for an independent local system," Mr Buswell said.

"We are also very reluctant, I have to say, to abandon the State's unincorporated small businesses to the centralist, pro-union federal system being rolled out by the Rudd Labor Government."

There was also the question of where coverage of the public sector should rest and, like most states, Western Australia would always expect to retain responsibility for that jurisdiction.

Apart from Victoria, which handed over its IR powers to Canberra in the 1990s, none of the states have yet agreed to participate in a single national industrial relations system as advocated by the Federal Government.

"We in WA are not about to wash our hands of industrial relations," the Minister said. "We have constitutional rights and responsibilities to uphold."

He said the benefits of retaining a state industrial relations system included:

- retaining the State Government's ability to provide local information and compliance services, tailored to the needs of WA employers and employees

- encouraging small business investment and employment in WA

- continuing to allow State Parliament to legislate a system to meet WA people's needs.

"To this end, I will commission an independent review of the workplace laws and arrangements operating in WA - such as they are since the Commonwealth took over coverage of incorporated businesses using its corporations' powers," Mr Buswell said.

He said there was no question that the State system had languished since that change in 2006. The Carpenter Government had done nothing to respond and the new Liberal-National Government had been left to pick up the pieces.

"With federal IR policy heading in reverse under Labor, our focus will be on developing a flexible, balanced and productive system for those employers and employees remaining in the WA system," the Minister said. "Our hope is that the other States will do the same."

"Rather than rolling over to Julia Gillard, our approach will be to work co-operatively with the Commonwealth to build a harmonised industrial relations system without having to hand over our long-held, constitutionally established role and powers."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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