Government decides to move the IRC out of the Sydney CBD


In 2016 and 2017 depaNews covered the moves by the NSW Government to dismantle the Industrial Relations Commission.  They separated its two constituent parts - the Industrial Court, which was moved into the Supreme Court, and the Commission itself and its primary responsibility to conciliate and settle disputes by agreement, to remain as a separate entity.  A separate entity with a Chief Commissioner and four Commissioners supported by 14 staff working for the Commissioners and in the NSW Industrial Registry.
But the Government doesn’t understand what the Commission does, and initial plans to move the five Commissioners and their staff to Goulburn Street to fit into the NCAT building (because that was a tribunal made from of a variety of parts and roles they thought the Commission could be hammered into) were so flawed that they didn’t proceed.
The courtrooms were too small and the parties appearing wouldn’t fit, there were no separate conference or negotiating rooms for those occasions when the Commission was conciliating with one side while the others remain somewhere else, and it was given up as folly.
But now the Government is up to no good again - proposing to move the IRC from the Sydney CBD to Parramatta without consultation with any of those people who use the services of the Commission.  No-one spoke to the employers’ organisations, no-one spoke to LGNSW representing 120 or so councils in NSW, no-one spoke to the individual unions which appear in the Commission, no-one spoke to UnionsNSW, no-one spoke to the Bar Association representing the barristers who appear, no-one spoke to the Law Society representing the solicitors and no-one spoke to the employees who would be affected, the members of the Commission, or the head of the jurisdiction.
This is NSW Government consultation at its proudest.
The complication has been that it’s hard to identify who would have consulted.  Described as a decision of “Government”, no-one is prepared to say who made the decision.  No-one knows whether it was made by all members of the Government, the Cabinet, an individual minister or even a couple of them, staggering home late one night from the Parliamentary bar and wondering why they shouldn’t send 14 people out from the CBD to Parramatta as part of the Government’s commitment to moving people to the west.  A small step of course, but an important one made in those circumstances.

Bit, by bit, the information has been revealed with draft floorplans as well.  The plan is to move the IRC out of the CBD without asking anyone who uses the system whether that’s good, bad or indifferent, and move it to Parramatta - 10 Smith Street, to be precise.

When you go to a museum or gallery or some other kind of Government institution they invariably ask you your postcode, so they have some idea of where the punters are coming from.  But no one did this - a relatively simple request could be made by court reporters asking advocates and lawyers appearing to record the postcode of their office or chambers.  Far too sensible and clearly not desirable because it would show virtually everyone who appears in the IRC has an office or chambers in the CBD.  Except probably us, with our office at Five Dock.

If governments don’t properly disclose why they’re doing things then we hapless citizens and users of government services try to work out why this would have happened, what was the motive.  Moving 14 people out to the west is clearly not the reason.
It’s hard for the Government to confess that the beautiful 19th century Victorian Chief Secretary’s building in Bridge Street that currently houses the Industrial Relations Commission and offices for the NSW Governor would be a marvellous piece of prime real estate that has had greedy, drooling developers trying to get their rapacious fat fingers on for decades.  The Government has already sold the Department of Education building, it’s only a matter of time before the other beautiful building in Bridge Street occupied by the Department of Planning for decades goes as well. Then they will all be lost to public ownership and access.

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