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Government’s quick IR move sparks debate

The government is set to fast-track numerous industrial relations (IR) amendments through Parliament without proper consultation. 

This move raises concerns among major Australian employer groups, as over one hundred amendments are expected to be introduced hastily, leaving insufficient time for debate and scrutiny. Amidst a cost-of-living crisis, the proposed changes are deemed problematic for businesses and workers. The government’s secretive approach, making amendments without public disclosure until the last minute, adds to the concerns of employer groups. Despite reported adjustments, the Bill remains confusing, complex, and costly.

Key issues include the potential impact on up to 2.7 million casual employees, higher prices for food delivery services, expanded union entry rights, increased complexity for small businesses, erosion of self-employment rights, and potential litigation challenges. The call for an extension of the Senate Committee Report into the Fair Work Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill reflects the need for thorough investigation and public scrutiny.

Australian employer groups stress the importance of splitting non-controversial bills with widespread support, urging the government to genuinely address concerns and engage transparently to find effective solutions.

In a press release, the government said: “The current policy will hit Australian businesses and workers with more costs and complexity right in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. To deal with criticism of the Bill, the Government has been making amendments, hiding them from the public and we only expect them to be finally released on Tuesday afternoon, giving MPs no time to scrutinise the detail before being asked to accept it. These changes will affect every business and every worker, and rushing amendments without proper consultation will do nothing more than tinker at the edges of the 800 pages of legislation.

“All the major problems with the Bill still remain and the changes, reported in recent weeks, do nothing to allay our significant fears. In fact, the Bill remains confusing, complex and costly. Unfortunately, we, Australian’s leading employer groups, believe the Government is unwilling to listen to any views which they do not agree with.

The Bill will:

Impact up to 2.7 million casual employees with less flexible jobs and the loss of 25% loading income; 

Push up prices for food delivery services to consumers; 

Expand the circumstances in which unions can enter workplaces without prior notice;

Impose complexity, confusion and red tape onto small businesses who are already under enormous operating pressures; 

Erode the right for self-employed Australians – from barbers to builders – to be their own boss; 

This means two workers with vastly different levels of experience will be forced to be paid the same; 

Increase costs and reduce the availability of road transport services;

Embroil service contractors in all industries in costly litigation regarding “Same Job, Same Pay;”

Increase the cost of building a home in the middle of a housing crisis.

“We also reiterate our support for splitting the four non-controversial bills, which have widespread support from the crossbench and Coalition in both houses of Parliament. We urge the Government to genuinely listen to the concerns of businesses and workers to identify the issues it is really seeking to resolve, and engage openly and transparently to find solutions.”

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