26 April 2007

Labor will replace the century-old Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) with a new body called Fair Work Australia if elected into government.

Since the workplace reforms took effect last year, the powers of the IRC have been greatly diminished according to Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd.

The new body will have the power to resolve industrial disputes and set the minimum wage, Rudd said, after having accused the Prime Minister of Americanising the IR laws.

Rudd condemned the present system, referring to it as an "alphabet soup of organisations." He claimed that Fair Work Australia will be a "one-stop shop, which actually establishes a fair and independent umpire."

The plan has the backing from the ACTU.

The ACTU's endorsement has angered the Prime Minister. There is an assumption, Howard said, "that the union movement has some pre-eminent right to determine policy in this area."

Labor's plan, according to Howard, "is a political device to give the impression of modernity but in reality it will hand back even greater power to union bosses in a centralised body."

Howard has support from Chief Executive Peter Hendy of the Australian chamber of commerce and industry who suggested that Labor's Fair Work Australia could be unconstitutional.

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