Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The High Court Battle Begins

The High Court battle over the constituional legality of the Federal Government's WorkChoices legislation has finally begun. The results of the case could have broader implications on other issues than just IR, as constitutional expert Greg Craven argues. A record 39 barristers are fighting the case, which will be heard by the full bench of the High Court for six days, making it the longest constitutional case in 20 years. Qld Premier Peter Beattie has gone so far as to predict that a Constitutional Convention will be required to sort out the State/Federal relationship should the case be unsuccessful. It is predicted that given the complexity of the case, it could take as long as a year to resolve, and even if it should not be wholly successful, it could result in some changes to what everyone, no matter whether they strongly agree or strongly disagree with the need for workplace reforms, believes are complex, unwieldy, and un-necessarily interventionist laws.

There are varying views as to how successful the case will be. The Sydney Morning Herald, in this round up (I love the picture), doesn't sound too optimistic, and, as it states, the tendency of the High Court is to defer to Parliament rather than challenge it, based on the principle that the Parliament is elected while the judiciary is appointed. Nevertheless, even if small concessions or breakthroughs were to result from the case, the whole exercise would be worthwhile.

And, above all, the fact remains. Australia's constitution (I won't link it; it's an abysmally dull document ... I think OzPolitics has a copy) has a clause on industrial relations and a clause on corporations. The clause on industrial relations specifically mentions that each state should have its own industrial relations system. The corporations clause mentions nothing whatsoever about IR, and has no reason to. It's a fundamental twisting of the Constitution, no matter how you look at it.