PM to premiers: hand over IR or I'll take action03 June 2005
Prime Minister John Howard's says his position on industrial relations is unchanged - either the premiers hand over their systems or he will take them over his own way.
The premiers and the federal government sit down at the Coalition of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra today, with the planned federal IR legislation certain to be a point of sharp disagreement.
"I don't expect that we'll have a fight. We may agree to disagree," Mr Howard told ABC radio.
"I don't see the meeting being consumed by a two-hour debate on industrial relations.
"We have a position. I'll ask them to do what Victoria has done. The Victorian referral has worked very well.
"If the states are willing to do that, I think we'll have a good outcome but, if they're not, it's always been our position that we would use the powers that are available to establish a national system."
Mr Howard dismissed suggestions by Queensland Premier Peter Beattie that a High Court challenge against the federal government's planned use of corporations power to poach the state systems would succeed.
"I'd expect him to say that. He's wrong. What's your next question?" Mr Howard said.
National Secretary Craig Thomson said once control of IR was handed to the federal government there would be no going back and workers would be trapped in an unfair system.
"It means that as captives of a federal system the system will get less fair. I think John Howard has lost the notion of a fair go, which the whole industrial relations system was built on and a fair go with an umpire there in case things get out of control.
How can a system be fair when you take away basic rights such as unfair dismissal rights for 90% of workers and force themn unto unfair individual contracts."
Health Services Union of Australia