IN THE TASMANIAN INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION
Industrial Relations Act 1984
Among other things, the Industrial Relations Act 1984, from which this Commission draws its jurisdiction and power, requires that all employer and all employee associations be registered. Registration confers upon the body concerned right of access to the Commission. And in this regard an organisation so registered, as of right, may call in aid any or all of the industrial processes that are available. The only fundamental qualification required is that whatever procedure is sought, the subject matter must first satisfy the definition of "industrial matter".
An unregistered organisation, if an employer, may only secure access to the Commission in circumstances in which that employer becomes involved in an industrial dispute (as defined). But an unregistered employer cannot appear in person or by agent in proceedings that involve, for example, the making or variation of an award binding upon him.
Registration therefore is a most important attainment. It clothes the individual organisation with authority to lodge applications and appear in person or by agent in any award matter in respect of which it has a registered "interest".
"Interest" is determined by the Commission as the penultimate step in obtaining registration. Subject to appeal "interest" is determined by a Commissioner sitting alone. The Act (for some obscure reason) does not envisage a Full Bench dealing with "interest" matters, individually or en masse. The one obvious exception is where an appeal has been lodged. In those circumstances the inevitable consequence is that not one but four members of the five-man Commission must eventually apply their collective minds to the subject matter under consideration.
Transitional provisions that accompanied the Act made temporary arrangements to facilitate the changeover from the old Public Service and Industrial Board systems to the somewhat monolithic arrangement that subsumed into its structure most of the earlier tribunals of original and appellate jurisdiction. These temporary arrangements also included the granting of "provisional registration" pending final determination of "interest" being made at a later stage.
In due course and on various dates the Registrar of the Commission advised me that he had registered a large number of employee and employer organisations, but that the eventual issue to those organisations of the required certificates of registration was deferred in each case pending determination of award "interest".
A prerequisite to determination of interest is the need to advise all organisations (provisionally registered, one presumes) of the identity of the awards in relation to which an applicant organisation seeks Commission approval of its claimed area of interest.
This mammoth task has occupied a great deal of time during the past four years.
A position has now been reached whereby the following processes have been completed:
Phase 3 is formal conferral of the certificate of registration to conclude the 3-stage protocol. This will occur when the Registrar has been notified by the Commission of the "interest" that an organisation has been awarded in an identified award or set of awards. Obviously where an appeal has been lodged against a decision on a contested issue, the Registrar will withhold issue of a certificate until the outcome of the appeal is known.
It is therefore essential that the Commission now complete its part of the registration procedure. Therefore, in accordance with the authority vested in me pursuant to Section 13(1) and 15(3)(b) of the Act, I determine that:
It follows from this that objections lodged against applications that are no longer contested have been, or should now be explicitly or implicitly withdrawn.
Where necessary, the relevant awards will be varied by the Commissioner to whom such matters will in due course be assigned. This will not occur until the Commission obtains from the TCI (as agent) confirmation and acceptance of the foregoing.
Non-agreed matters will then be referred to individual members pursuant to Section 63(10)(b). As required by the Act, those issues will be heard and determined by a Commissioner sitting alone.
When award variations necessarily arising from agreed matters have been effected, members of the Commission will advise the Registrar of the awards in respect of which interest has been granted. The Registrar will then issue the necessary certificate of registration thereby completing registration.
The foregoing relates only to "interest" in awards current as at August 1988. Awards made after that date will be subject to further consideration in due course.