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Queensland IR laws stir national fury

Queensland IR laws stir national fury

The Queensland Parliament passed laws last week referring its IR powers to Canberra, despite the Liberal National Party voting against the bill.

THE Queensland Parliament passed laws last week referring its IR powers to Canberra, despite the Liberal National Party voting against the bill.

From next year, the Federal Government will take control of industrial relations for private companies, and some government-owned corporations in the sunshine state.

The Fair Work (Commonwealth Powers) and Other Provisions Bill was voted up following an animated debate on the chamber floor.

Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick criticised the Liberal National Party’s opposition.

“The Liberal National Party policy tumbleweed goes on,” he said.

Queensland Deputy Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg told Parliament has expressed his concern about the centralisation of the industrial relations system.

“I believe that this legislation is somewhat unnecessary and somewhat dangerous,” he said.

Springborg said the laws would deprive small businesses in Queensland of the opportunity to be protected under the state industrial relations system, “which I actually believe can and does provide better safeguards for them, better options for them and a simpler system”.

He said workers, as well, will be affected by the changes.

Those particular workers who are covered in Queensland by the state industrial relations system in the residual areas are going to be very, very seriously disadvantaged in their basic rights by actually being referred off to the Commonwealth industrial relations system, or Fair Work Australia as it is now known.”

Springborg said his party believes, as far as the federation is concerned, about the notion of cooperative federalism and competitive federalism. He said the states can achieve excellence and a competitive advantage by developing system that allow it to create an environment that is more attractive for businesses in Queensland than in other places around Australia.

But ALP Minister Simon Finn rejected the opposition’s points. He said: “No amount of pubescent moralising can escape the fact that those opposite are in here upset about another stake being driven into the heart of Work Choices. That is what this is about.”

But he said there would be efforts to resolve issues. Any attempt to produce a national system and “provide a stable system across the country” will bring a range of issues, said Finn.

“As we start with cooperative federalism where there is a need to be harmonising systems, we are always going to come up with a range of issues to be resolved.”

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