Work laws a threat to children: expert Email Print Normal font Large font By Nick O'Malley Workplace Reporter April 1, 2006 Advertisement AdvertisementTHE Federal Government's takeover of state industrial systems has been drafted so broadly it overturns NSW regulations preventing known sex offenders from working with children, a workplace law expert says. The legislation has been drafted to override state industrial laws governing companies, except a handful covering things such as occupational health and safety, equal opportunities, superannuation discrimination and workers compensation. Steven Penning, a specialist in workplace law and a partner at the Labor-linked law firm Turner Freeman, said: "There is a system for recording offences. A register has been established and there are statutory declarations that employees have to complete if they are going to do any work associated with children. "There are limitations on people who are convicted of some offences. "This new [Commonwealth] legislation has overridden all of that but has not replaced it with anything. The effect of it will be that the protections can be challenged." Mr Penning said this was an unintended consequence of the wholesale overriding of state law. "Much of the state laws were developed carefully over 10 or more years, often with investigations and inquiries and work by parliamentary committees. "The Federal Government is coming in with these broad brush strokes; this is one area that they have just not thought about." The Government could easily rewrite its laws to fix the problem, he said. But a spokesman for the Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, said there was no need to. He said the Government had legal advice that the legislation in question would not be affected by WorkChoices. "The claim is completely without foundation," he said. Such potential "side effects" of the ammendments to Australias industrial laws are expected to form a new front in the Opposition's attack on WorkChoices. The state Minister for Industrial Relations, John Della Bosca, said he would write to Mr Andrews for clarification on the issue, and on earlier claims that the new federal laws would also override state laws protections for workers from covert surveillance at work.