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IR changes in QLD risk politicising independent umpire

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Media Release

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Leading industrial law firm, Slater and Gordon, has today raised concerns about a number of Queensland Government-proposed changes to industrial matters in Queensland, saying that the government risked politicising the industrial relations commission.

The State Government’s proposed changes to industrial laws in Queensland includes a requirement that the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) consider the Government’s fiscal strategy when determining wages, as well as new powers for the Attorney-General to terminate industrial action.

Slater and Gordon industrial lawyer, Andrew Rich, said that this raft of changes was a real concern to working Queenslanders and that unions and the public sector have a right to be worried.

“Requiring the QIRC to consider the state’s financial position and fiscal strategy risks making the wages of public sector workers subject to political views such as the importance of achieving a budget surplus,” Mr Rich said.

“The new requirement also risks politicising the Commission as it may have to assess the Government’s fiscal strategy against any submission the Government might make about the wages it can afford.

“Under the current Queensland Industrial laws, the Commission already has to consider the likely effects of a proposed wage determination on the economy, community, and the particular enterprise or industry concerned, so it would seem that any further strengthening on these laws is really unnecessary.”

Mr Rich also raised concerns about new powers for the Attorney-General to terminate industrial action, again repeating that the QIRC has the power to step in and get negotiations moving.

“At present, an application can be made to the Commission to assist to facilitate the negotiation of an agreement through conciliation or by making bargaining orders. The Commission also has the power to determine the matter by arbitration on its own initiative.

“There are already processes in place for industrial matters to be dealt with, without having any political intervention” Mr Rich said.