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Proceed with caution on IR system reform.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 05/055 WEDNESDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2005 SENATOR ANDREW MURRAY AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS WORKPLACE RELATIONS SPOKESPERSON PROCEED WITH CAUTION ON IR SYSTEM REFORM The Howard Government must not apply an "all or nothing" strategy to its unitary industrial relations system reform agenda, according to the Australian Democrats. Democrats' Workplace Relations spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray, today said the government must employ an extensive, consultative approach with State governments, employees, employers and unions to advancing this reform. "The Democrats have made no secret of the fact that a unitary industrial relations system should be on the reform agenda," Senator Murray said. "We need one industrial relations system and not six. We need common human rights across Australia. We need easily administered rules and laws that support efficient, competitive and productive enterprise. It is common sense and that is why it should be on the table for discussion. But it must not be applied at any cost." Senator Murray said the most effective way to get a unitary industrial relations system would be by referral of powers to the Commonwealth by the States. "It's time to look to Victoria as a precedent. This is the State with a militant industrial relations record and this is the State that in 1997 referred its powers to the Commonwealth. This is a State which now operates effectively under the current law. By and large the current law is the one which should be used as a template for a unitary system," he said. Senator Murray said the Government should look to corporations law reform as an indicator of how to proceed. "The Government must take a national leadership approach and try to strike an agreement with the State Premiers. The key advantage to this approach would be widespread community acceptance." Senator Murray added that the Democrats support of any Government proposals would be subject to a review of the detail of the proposed changes. "The Democrats will support a move to a unitary system if it can occur with the preservation of rights and achieve simplicity and efficiency while delivering a fair go for workers and employers," Senator Murray concluded. Media Contact - Senator Andrew Murray on (02) 6277 3709.