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Opposition to continue to oppose contractors' bill - amendments will not protect contractors or contracts

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I r Bob Charles MPFederal Member for La TrobcIa c t in g s h a d o w m in is t e p , f o r in d u s t r ia lRELATIONS, EMPLOYMENT & TRAININGNEWS R ELEASE HZ

IRET 42/92


The Opposition will continue to vigorously oppose the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill currently before the Senate.

The Government claims one of the purposes of the bill is to detect and destroy "sham" contracts - contracts designed to disguise and conceal employer-employee relationship properly subject to awards - to avoid award obligations.

The fact is that the bill in both it original and amended form goes far beyond its stated intention of catching "sham" contracts.

The bill will allow trade unions to impose radical changes in working arrangements upon many industries, replacing traditional contracting arrangements with awards.

The Government is using the "sham" contract argument to shift the contracting system out of the common law jurisdiction and into the industrial relations jurisdiction.

The bill will bring the traditional contracting system within the purview of the Industrial Relations Commission.

The bill will give the commission power to review contracts and to vary them. Inevitably independent contractors will find it more difficult to resist trade union recruitment, and employers will find it more difficult to resist award encroachment on work normally done by independent contractors.

The shift of jurisdiction is not necessary. Courts already deal with "sham" contracts. If the Government is dissatisfied with existing contract law in this area, it could simply amend the Trade Practices Act.



If the problem is cost of access to the courts, a much simpler remedy is available - access to simplified magistrates courts procedures as proposed by another section of the bill designed to facilitate recovery of

small claims by employees.

Moreover, the bill's proposed changes to the existing certified agreements provisions will do little if anything to promote the certified agreements process.

They will, however, prevent an employer from concluding a certified agreement with any employees who are not union members.

It has become apparent since the introduction of the bill and negotiations about its contents that the only demand for it has been from the ACTU and the trade union movement concerned about the implications of the

Troubleshooters Case, in which ordinary courts of law found in favour of the contract system.

Amendments to the bill remove some of its more offensive provisions. But the bill remains totally objectionable, and a threat to the traditional contracting system, and a threat to the viability of those businesses and

industries which traditionally have relied upon it.

BORONIA 14 June 1992

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