http://www.smh.com.au/news/national...-of-power-judge/2006/05/05/1146335930379.htmlFEDERAL-STATE relations could change "radically and forever" if the Federal Government survives the High Court challenge to its workplace reforms, Justice Michael Kirby said yesterday.
Justice Kirby told the court there would be few areas of life the Commonwealth could not regulate if the court ruled section 51(20) of the Constitution - the corporations power - was valid for employer-employee relations. He said it was important to "see where logic is taking us".
"We are looking down a tunnel which has very great significance … you [will have] changed the notion of federalism radically - and forever."
He said a Commonwealth victory would mean that section 51 (35) of the Constitution - which covers the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes - "may as well not have been there".
Brett Walker, SC, for NSW, said the power was intended only to regulate a company's "outside" dealings such as trade and not "inside" workings like staff matters.
But Justice William Gummow said the corporations power was first used for labour issues in 1988, again in 1993 and then in 1996.
And as the Victorian solicitor-general, Pamela Tate, SC, argued s51 (35) was the only power intended to cover employee relations, he again said: "This is pure originalism (the theory that says the Constitution does not evolve)".
It pretty much gives Federal Government sweaping powers s51(20) which could undermind State's ability to manage its own affairs.