Issue #1563 5 September 2012
Qld govt on the attack
Queensland’s Newman government has passed legislation to void public sector agreement clauses that provide for job security and regulate contracting-out, give greater scope for lawyers to appear in the state Industrial Relations Commission and remove administrative duties from Commission President David Hall.
The Public Sector and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012, which was passed last month, nullifies provisions in industrial instruments covering government employers that deal with contracting-out, employment security and organisational change.
The amendment cites clause 7.3 (organisational change and restructuring) of the State Government Departments Certified Agreement 2009 as an example of a “contracting out” provision that will now have no effect, while clauses 7.1 and 7.2 are employment security clauses that have been voided along with the organisational change clause (7.3).
It also returns the Commission’s administrative functions to Vice President Di Linnane, who had those responsibilities from 2002 until 2009, when the role was handed back to the President, David Hall. The President will now focus on hearing appeals in the Industrial Court.
The bill also broadens the right to legal representation in the IRC. Representation will continue to be available as a matter of right for freedom of association matters, but it will now extend to s149 agreement arbitrations and cases under sections 230, 274A, and 277.
Representation will also be allowed in other cases where both sides consent, or with leave of the Commission, which must be satisfied by the demonstration of sufficient grounds.
The legislation follows another bill that passed mid-year that requires the IRC to take prevailing economic conditions into account when determining wage rises and gives the Attorney-General power to terminate industrial action if it is considered a “threat to the community or the economy”.
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