Abolition of State IR Commission an Easy One For O’Farrell
Political and industrial insiders will examine the entrails for signs of how quickly the O’Farrell government will move on the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. Some of my contacts confirm the new government sees as quite anomalous that there is a fully-resourced Industrial Relations Commission presiding over the wages and conditions of public servants. And only public servants. They are very likely to abolish it.
In its 2006 decision on Work Choices the High Court recognised overriding Commonwealth powers in industrial relations. That meant the NSW Commission only deals with state public servants and no workers from the private sector. I understand NSW public servants in the Department of Industrial Relations advised the Labor government to wrap up the IR Commission and hand matters over to the Commonwealth. Why wouldn’t they give the same advice, ignored by Labor, to the new Coalition government?
And why wouldn’t the Coalition government accept it?
In 1996 the Kennett government had handed its industrial relations powers over to federal jurisdiction. What would stop the NSW Coalition from doing the same? Certainly not a Labor-Green Upper House majority. The chances of that faded with the Green Party decision not to trade preferences.
In wrapping up the IR Commission an O’Farrell government would be saying, “Let Julia Gillard’s system – Fair Work Australia – be responsible for industrial relations in the state government sector.”
It will encounter harder debates than this to win.