Queensland’s industrial relations (IR) system will be set back a century if new laws for the public sector are passed later this year, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) says.
The Queensland Government has introduced a bill to Parliament to revamp IR laws, saying the laws would establish key defining features for the state’s IR system.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the bill would remove the last vestiges of the former government’s “unfair” IR laws.
“The LNP’s laws stripped away the hard-fought and won employment conditions of state and local government workers,” she said.
But the LGAQ is opposed to the bill enabling the industrial registrar to expand the local government industry award into three separate awards.
‘Cost will be borne by ratepayers’
LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam said the Government would sideline the independent Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.
“We have the Minister dictating how many awards there should be and the content of the awards,” Mr Hallam said.
“Why have an independent umpire in the form of the Industrial Relations Commission when the Government herself is going to make those determinations? It’s completely wrong and it takes away any faith that the system is independent, impartial or fair.”
Mr Hallam said ratepayers would bear the cost if the laws were passed.
“This is a cost that will be borne by the ratepayers of Queensland,” he said.
“This is a cost that means we have a much more cumbersome industrial relations system, many more awards, much more complexity, a much more costly system to administer.”
Ms Grace defended the bill, saying there was a lot of benefit in having three separate awards “remembering the LGAQ has gone from 40 awards down to 18 awards and at the end of this at the worst, come out with three very identifiable awards”.
“The Supreme Court confirmed the making of these streams. We have always indicated that we would prefer to have them converted into awards.”
Ms Grace said she would be happy to keep discussing the issue with the LGAQ.
“We are more than happy to speak to all stakeholders to, you know, hopefully work this out. The bill will be debated in November and there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge and my door is always open,” she said.