Workplace relations legal advice

During 2016–17, the Department provided legal advice to our portfolio Minister, portfolio agencies and other stakeholders about the operation of the national workplace relations system, developments arising from relevant court and tribunal decisions in federal, state and territory jurisdictions, work health and safety and workers’ compensation, and public sector employment.

Primary legislation

The Department supported the development, introduction and passage through the Parliament of legislation that implements the Government’s workplace relations priorities (discussed further on pages 57–59):

In addition, the Department supported the development of the following legislative priorities of the Government.

The Fair Work Amendment (Respect for Emergency Services Volunteers) Act 2016

The Department supported the passage of the Respect for Emergency Services Volunteers Act through the Parliament in October 2016. This Act gives effect to the Government’s election commitment to amend the Fair Work Act so as to prevent enterprise agreements including terms that undermine the capacity of designated emergency management bodies to manage their volunteer operations or terms that are inconsistent with state or territory laws that regulate such bodies. It also provides that certain volunteer bodies can make submissions to the Fair Work Commission in relation to enterprise agreements or workplace determinations that affect or could affect volunteers of a designated emergency management body.

The Comcare and Seacare Legislation Amendment (Pension Age and Catastrophic Injury) Act 2017

The Department supported the passage of the Comcare and Seacare Legislation Amendment (Pension Age and Catastrophic Injury) Act through the Parliament in June 2017. The Act amends the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 and the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 to allow incapacity payments to continue until an employee reaches ‘pension age’, rather than age 65, in order to reflect the increase in the age pension age. It also removes the cap on compensation payable for household services and attendant care services for employees with a catastrophic injury to align these Acts with minimum benchmarks in the National Injury Insurance Scheme.

The Safe Work Australia Amendment (Role and Functions) Bill 2017

The Safe Work Australia Amendment (Role and Functions) Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 31 May 2017. The Bill seeks to implement the recommendations of the Review of Safe Work Australia’s Role and Functions. It clarifies Safe Work Australia’s role and updates, consolidates and simplifies the body’s existing functions.

Legislative instruments

The Department developed a number of legislative instruments (including Regulations) to give effect to the Government’s workplace relations priorities. The following regulatory amendments were made during 2016–17: