LEGAL EXPERTS will be forced to spend long hours sorting through and comprehending new industrial relations laws when they are rushed through parliament over the coming weeks, according to labour lawyers.
Along with parliament and the general public, lawyers will have little time to consider the new legislation’s content and implications, the Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law at the University of Melbourne said last week.
The Centre is now urging the Government to reconsider its legislative programme, which currently allows only one week for consideration and public submissions to a Senate inquiry.
An extended timetable will ensure proper scrutiny of the proposed laws, said spokesperson Dr Sean Cooney.
“No single member of parliament, much less the public, will become fully conversant with the text of the new law or laws in the time available,” Cooney said. “Attaining a sound understanding of the laws is even less likely.”
Speaking on behalf of the Centre, he said: “This is one of the most radical and fundamental sets of changes to the federal system ever seen in Australia, and to allow sufficient time for parliament to inform itself of the real ramifications the changes will bring is nonsensical.”
The Centre was last week attempting to put together a submission to government based on the Government’s campaign material, as the actual legislation was unavailable.
The Government introduced the “WorkChoices” legislation to parliament on Wednesday this week.
Kevin Andrews, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations last week said parliament would be able to consider the detail of the Government’s legislation when it was introduced this week. He said the information released earlier this month had already explained in detail how the new workplace relations system will work.
This week, a spokesperson for Kevin Andrews, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, confirmed that a Senate parliamentary inquiry would only have one week to receive submissions on the changes, but claimed many aspects of the Bill had already been inquired into.
“There have been 13 inquiries, eight of which have dealt with unfair dismissal,” he said. He conceded not all of the changes under WorkChoices had been in previous legislation, but said the week-long inquiry would be available to consider any new elements.
The Government says it is committed to securing the passage of the legislation by the end of this year, and for it to commence in the first quarter of next year.