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High Court challenge to the Howard Government's extreme industrial relations changes.



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M E D I A R E L E A S E

Stephen Smith MP Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations Member for Perth

34/06 4 May 2006

HIGH COURT CHALLENGE TO THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT'S EXTREME INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS CHANGES

The High Court hearings into the States challenge to the jurisdictional authority of the Howard Government’s extreme industrial relations changes commence today.

But it will take some time to show what a jurisdictional dog’s breakfast the Howard Government has made of its WorkChoices changes.

By the Government's own estimates, up to 85 per cent of the country’s workforce will potentially be covered by the Government’s changes.

In blunt terms, that will mean that anywhere over 1.5 million employees will remain outside of the jurisdictional coverage of the Government’s changes. This only means incomplete and inconsistent coverage across the nation’s workplaces.

While the High Court itself will obviously determine WorkChoices precise coverage, confusion we will remain for some time under the Government’s transitional arrangements.

The process of moving State awards and agreements to the Federal jurisdiction are so complex that many employers and employees will be unsure what their rights and responsibilities are.

This uncertainty is the Government’s own doing. If Kevin Andrews was serious about developing a national industrial relations system he would have sought to work cooperatively with the State Governments.

The problem for the Howard Government however is that its extreme industrial relations policy is not based on good public policy but on ideological zealotry.

The findings of the High Court may ultimately reflect this.

Contact: Courtney Hoogen on (02) 6277 4108 or 0414 364 651