Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called changes to Australian labor laws an opportunity to rebuild an outdated system.
As debate continues in the House of Representatives over industrial relations reforms that would allow multi-employer bargaining, Mr Albanese said the changes would ensure better pay for workers.
“This bill represents an opportunity for Australia to move beyond a system that serves no one’s interest and into one that serves the common good,” he said. Wednesday in Parliament.
“What we are looking for is a consensus on a common goal: an economy with strong growth, high productivity and fair wages.”
Opposition and all-bench MPs have raised concerns about the changes that could greatly affect small businesses, while accusing the government of stifling debate on the issue.
Labor is trying to get the measures through parliament by the end of the year.
A vote is expected on the bill on Thursday before moving to the Senate, where it will sit for just two weeks this year before Parliament adjourns.
Despite opposition to the bill, Mr Albanese said the legislation had found the right tone among stakeholders.
“I understand that there are both company representatives and union representatives who feel that this legislation is not exactly what they want,” he said.
“To me, that means we have the right balance.”
Mr Albanese said the changes to employers’ negotiations were essential because the system as it stood was not working.
“The take-up rate of enterprise agreements is at its lowest in 30 years. It’s a one-size-fits-all system that’s no longer fit for purpose,” he said.
However, Independent MP Dai Le said the proposed changes would be a burden on small businesses.
“Bill itself has more layers than an onion, and when you try to peel yourself you can’t help but cry over the layers on top of tougher regulatory requirements for employers, especially small businesses that can’t afford lawyers,” she said. told parliament on Wednesday.
“Why is the government rushing into this with Christmas fast approaching, on such important legislation that will have unintended consequences.”
Several MPs have backed calls for the bill to be split, to ensure that non-contentious parts of the legislation, such as pay rises for workers, can be passed quickly.
Greens leader Adam Bandt said the minor party would support the bill in the lower house, before determining whether any further changes should be made once the debate reaches the Senate.
Labor will need the Greens and a cross-senator to push the bill through the upper house.
Mr Bandt said he supported many elements of the bill but wanted to make sure employees were not made worse.
“We don’t want any loopholes in this bill that could allow people to roll back, and I think that’s the government’s intention as well,” Mr Bandt told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
“We want to make sure this bill has a good floor.”
Mr. Bandt said he was satisfied with the position of the bill on multi-employer bargaining with the amendments that have been proposed.
Liberal deputy leader Sussan Ley said the proposed changes could not save the bill.
“You don’t make a bad invoice better by taking pieces out of it or splitting it up, that’s a problem and it’s going to add to the supply chain crisis that I see across the country,” he said. she told reporters.
Other amendments to the bill are expected to be debated, and more likely to be considered once a Senate report on the proposed laws is released later this month.
Crossbench MP Rebekha Sharkie has called on the government to expand the definition of small businesses in the bill from 15 to 100 employees, to reduce the impact of trading changes on smaller operators.
© APA 2022