John Bowler

John Bowler

Former Minister for Local Government; Employment Protection; Racing and Gaming; Goldfields-Esperance and Great Southern

    Howard's IR laws still unfair: WA Government.

    14/11/2006 1:30 PM
     
    14/11/06

    Employment Protection Minister John Bowler vowed that the Western Australian Government would continue to oppose the Howard Government’s Industrial Relations laws, despite the High Court finding the laws constitutionally valid.

    In an historic decision, a majority decision of the High Court determined that the Commonwealth could regulate workplace relations using the corporations power of the Constitution. All the State Labor Governments challenged the IR laws in the High Court earlier this year.

    “Today is a very sad day for many WA workers and their families,” Mr Bowler said.

    “For more than 100 years, the States have had primary responsibility for industrial relations. This was lost today.”

    The Minister pointed to concerns raised in Justice Kirby’s dissenting decision where he stated:
      “The imperative to ensure a ‘fair go all round’ which lay at the heart of federal industrial law (and the State systems that grew up by analogy), is destroyed by a single stroke.”

    While Mr Bowler acknowledged the decision was extremely disappointing, he believed the battle for workers’ rights had only just begun.

    “Just because the laws are legally sound, it does not make them morally right,” he said.

    “Make no mistake, the Howard Government’s IR laws are bad news for workers and their families. John Howard will only be able to hide behind the High Court’s decision for so long.

    “There is no comfort in the High Court’s decision for those workers who are now without a job because of the laws. There is no comfort for those workers who have lost overtime, meal breaks and other core entitlements.

    “It would be a mistake to lose sight of the human cost of these laws in the legal technicalities.

    “The Carpenter Government will be doing whatever it legally can to protect workers from these extreme laws.”

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