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Unfair dismissal law

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January 15, 1996



The claim made today by the Hon Laurie Brereton, Minister for Industrial Relations that the Coalition's policy will leave "employees under federal jurisdiction with no protection against unfair dismissal" is just another desperate lie.

The Coalition believes that there should be a form o f redress for employees whose employment is unfairly terminated, but the law should incorporate a commonsense approach. The Coalition will scrap Labor's scheme and replace it with one founded on the principle o f a fair go all round.

The reason for the proposed change is that Labor's scheme is not working and M r Brereton's amendments are obviously inadequate. This became even clearer following remarks made in October last year by the Chief Judge o f the Industrial Relations Court o f Australia. The

remarks were made at a Conference o f the Industrial Relations Society o f Victoria.

In response to a question, M r Justice Wilcox commented on the effects o f the Federal Government's amendments to its unfair dismissal law. In effect, His H onour said that the changes would make little difference to the operation o f the law.

The amendments were introduced to quell widespread dissatisfaction with M r Brereton's system. The Government's stated intention was to ensure that all circumstances would be taken into account in unfair dismissal cases, rather than the current practice which gives central importance to procedural issues regardless o f other circumstances. M r Justice Wilcox

made it clear that in his opinion all circumstances are already taken into account and therefore the amendments would be o f little substantial effect.

He also said that he was uncertain o f the impact of those changes which would involve the Australian Industrial Relations Commission itself more in the handling o f these cases.

These remarks from the head o f the responsible court were a grave disappointment to all those hoping for some significant change in the operation o f Labor's unfair dismissal law. Mr Brereton has done nothing since then to alleviate these legitimate concerns.

The Chief Judge's remarks reveal that Mr Brereton's amendments, like his comments today, are only window dressing for the election

For further information: Peter Reith__________________(059) 744 839 or 018 486 638