Government: Benefits to Economy Will Be Focus of IR Reform

Published July 10, 2019 (last updated August 12, 2020) -

“The Morrison government will conduct a review of workplace laws, according to SBS, saying that they will focus on changes that make the economy stronger.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter is reviewing a wide range of industrial laws, including the definition of casual employment and unfair dismissal rules.

“Our focus, as a government, is what steps can we take to continue to strengthen the Australian economy and in doing so, what steps can we take to encourage businesses…to employ more people and to continue to see more jobs being created,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

One focus of the review will also be a government bill that would make it easier to de-register unions and disqualify union officials. The bill passed parliament in 2017 but failed in the Senate without the support of the crossbench.

“Those officials and those unions that break the law repeatedly, we want to see them face the full consequences of that because that’s not good for the economy,” Frydenberg said, according to 9news.

“That’s also not good for the reputation of the construction centre.”

Labor and unions are viewing the review with scepticism, arguing that the Australian economy and workplace rights have more pressing concerns.

“What economists are saying is missing in our industrial relations system at the moment is wage increases,” Labor leader Anthony Albanese said.

In terms of the government bill affecting unions, Albanese accused the government of “actively undermining the freedom of organised labour and that’s an important principle in a democracy”.

This news comes in the wake of Ed Mallett, Managing Director of Employsure, Australia’s leading employment adviser for SMEs, welcoming the announcement of industrial relations reform.

“The federal government’s intention to review the workplace relations system is encouraging for the 24,000 small businesses we represent across Australia,” Mallett said.

“The overwhelming view among our small business clients is the legislation is far too complicated, particularly for those with less than 20 employees and no expert HR or legal departments.

“We have already identified a number of simple steps to tackle the overly complex industrial relations system for small businesses that would make a real difference to the sector.

“A key priority should be a review of the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, to ensure there are adequate provisions to protect small business employers from an unfair dismissal claim when they have made every effort to do the right thing.

“The current protections in place are a decade old this July, and the nature of the work has evolved. The review of rules governing dismissals need urgent review,” he said.

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