Further reductions at the NSW Industrial Relations Commission

Consistent with the steady decline in the size and function of the NSW IRC over recent years, the Baird Government has proposed legislation to move its judicial functions over to the Supreme Court, as well as consider the appointment of a Chief Commissioner to oversee the remaining five Commission members.

Last month the Government sent out to interested stakeholders plans to further deal with the declining number of matters being dealt with by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. While 766 cases were commenced in the Industrial Court in 2005, latest figures show this had reduced to only 37 in 2015. The Government claims this low case load means the Industrial Court is unable to function cost-wise in comparison to a larger court. The Government also claims it is increasingly difficult to acquire an acting judge to replace the sole remaining judge, Justice Walton, when he is on leave or otherwise unavailable.

To overcome these problems, the Government proposes to appoint Justice Walton to the Supreme Court, which will take on the current industrial jurisdiction. They also intend to appoint a new Chief Commissioner to oversee all non-judicial functions currently exercised by Commissioners such as conciliations, arbitrations, and making agreements.

The Government is seeking stakeholder responses by 5 September 2016 to policy@justice.nsw.au.



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