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Fair Work Bill before Senate next week

The Federal Government’s Fair Work legislation will be put to a vote in the Senate next week.

The Bill is scheduled for debate on Tuesday, 10 March and Wednesday, 11 March.

It is likely the Coalition and the Greens will propose numerous amendments, and the Government has indicated it is willing to accept ‘technical’ ones that improve the Bill.


However, the Government is expected to baulk at any amendments that significantly alter the contents of the Bill.

The Opposition has indicated in its minority report following a Senate Inquiry into the legislation that it is unhappy with areas such as the transfer of business, right of entry, collective bargaining, low-paid bargaining stream and default bargaining agents.

It can be expected to move amendments in these areas, but surprisingly has voiced little opposition to the unfair dismissal provisions in the laws.

The Greens will move amendments that increase union power under the legislation as they continue in their campaign to attract support from the Left of the trade union movement.

Any amendment of the legislation by the Senate that is not supported by the Government would see the amendments rejected in the Lower House and the Bill returned to the Senate.

Double dissolution trigger

If rejected twice, it would become the Rudd Government’s first trigger for a potential double dissolution later in the year, with a re-run of the ‘WorkChoices’ debate that dominated the last federal election.

However, if the global economic crisis is still under way and an early election occurs, that would be expected to dominate campaigning by both sides. Industrial relations would only be one element of that issue.


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