Australian House of Representatives grows heated over industrial relations legislation

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Australian industral relations reform legislation made up of 700 pages of bill legislation and 500 additional pages of explanatory memoranda was introduced into the Federal House of Representatives November 2, where the Opposition heatedly attempted to address their perceived problem of the Government's lack of discussion and debate over the matter.

The first reading of the bill was the first order of the day, and when Kevin Andrews tried to do so, Opposition member Stephen Smith, responsible for workplace relations, immediately moved a motion deferring the bills to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Workplace Relations and Workforce Participation. The Leader of the House, Tony Abbott moved that Smith and the necessary supporter — viz., Julia Gillard — be not further heard (cloture). The Government's majority in the House ensured that this would happen. However, Opposition members attempted to use House standing orders necessitating that copies of the bill to be "available to Members", with argument arising whether "available to Members" meant all members or simply whether some copies should be available; this ended up in a dissent motion moved against the Speaker of the House.

Later, in a heated Question Time, where six members of the Opposition, (Kelly Hoare, Julia Irwin, Anthony Albanese, Bernard Ripoll, Catherine King, and Gavan O'Connor), were removed from the Chamber during Question Time under standing orders for disruption — Jill Hall quipped that she was "glad to be still here to ask [her] question" — nearly all questions to the Government put by the Opposition, the subsequent time for matters of public importance, and some members in the adjournment debate, was all on the topic of the industrial relations reform.

To implement and fund the legislation, the government will "spend an additional $486million on industrial relations changes over four years, or $121million a year. This spending would be in addition to the present annual budget of $86million." said an unnamed government source for The Australian.

The government will need to use its corporation powers to remove the powers from the states to alter the award conditions and other employee employer related conditions. But the New South Wales premier Morris Iemma has received legal advice that the legislation maybe unconstitutional, the reason being its being used to end the role of the states and territories Australian States in the industrial relations system. "It is our view that the Commonwealth is misusing this law to achieve exactly what it was designed to prevent", Iemma said. Mr Iemma will be challenging the changes in the high court with Peter Beattie Premier of Queensland supporting his challenge in the High Court.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
  • Australian House of Representatives Hansard, November 2, 2005.