• Media Release

Business is opposed to Government’s proposals to remove flexibility and choice in workplace

The Australian business community stands united in its broad opposition to the Federal Government’s proposals to remove flexibility and choice in the workplace, which will threaten jobs and investment, and undermine productivity.

The Government simply hasn’t provided evidence of any substantial problem to be fixed.

The Federal Government is being disingenuous in implying its Same Job, Same Pay proposal is merely about “closing a loophole”, or that its ‘employee-like’ proposal will not lead to unprecedented interference in contracts.

This proposal is a radical, systemic reordering of the Workplace Relations system. It is a broad over-reach into Australian businesses, large and small, hurting contractors across all sectors of the economy, not just labour hire employers. This proposed law is about reversing four decades of progression, where Australia has moved away from centralised wage-fixing to enterprising-level terms and conditions that are based on productivity and reward for effort.

Business stands united in its view that service contractors in all sectors of the economy should not be subject to the Federal Government’s Same Job, Same Pay proposed legislation and that the proposed law should only apply to labour hire where there is evidence to prove there is a problem.

Service contractors provide specific services and expertise to countless businesses across the economy, as opposed to labour hire, which are businesses that exist to provide workers.

The only solution is to have a clear and straightforward definition of a service contractor, excluding those businesses from labour hire. The policy should then only apply to labour hire where the government can prove there is, in fact, a problem.

The government must listen to the legitimate concerns of all businesses, given the impacts of this proposal reach into all corners of the economy. And it must also be transparent and make public its proposals.

Andrew McKellar, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry:
“If we are to address the urgent productivity and inflation challenges facing the economy, it is vital that we have flexibility in workplace relations arrangements that allows businesses to prosper.”

Samantha McCulloch, Chief Executive of Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association:
“The Australian oil and gas industry wants to see an industrial relations framework that promotes fair and equitable pay and working conditions, and that rewards effort and experience across the diverse career opportunities available in the sector. We share the concerns of the business community that the proposed reforms – if not carefully designed and targeted – will extend beyond labour hire arrangements and impact the operational flexibility our industry needs to ensure competitive and affordable gas supply for Australia’s cleaner energy future.”

Australian Resources & Energy Employer Association:
“AREEA fundamentally opposes the ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ policy.”

Jennifer Westacott, CEO of the Business Council of Australia:
“These proposed changes come as we contemplate this rapidly changing world at a time when Australia faces an enormous productivity challenge. If we don’t address this, and workplace laws are central to the solution, our wages will be lower, our enviable low unemployment will be at risk, goods will be more expensive and interest rates will be higher for longer.”

Matthew Addison, Chairman of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia:
“Small businesses seek a positive work place environment and they are in fear of these measures creating angst with workers.  COSBOA seeks to ensure we don’t have wide impacts that are unintended.”

Denita Wawn, CEO of the Master Builders Australia:
“With interest rates on the rise, economic growth slowing down, and low productivity, the Government is crippling businesses and industries that are relied upon to prevent a recession.
“This is not about closing loopholes; it’s wrapping a rope around the hands of contractors who want to be their own boss. There should be clear and strong allowances for independent contractors and self-employed tradies, subcontracting, and group training arrangements.”

Tania Constable, CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia:
“The government continues to misrepresent how far-reaching and invasive its Same Job, Same Pay proposal is. Unless the policy excludes all service contractors, it will impose complexity and uncertainty on the entire services economy _ the largest sector in Australia. Service contractors are not labor hire firms. Full stop.”

Tony Mahar, CEO of the National Farmers Federation
“Having just jammed ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ rules into the PALM Scheme, we have every reason to expect that the Government will try and apply this policy as broadly as possible in the farm sector. A poorly targeted policy will do nothing but push up the cost of food and fibre production, and worsen an already dire workforce situation for farmers.”

Charles Cameron, CEO of the Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association:
“When the University of Melbourne have confirmed that, on average, labour hire employees are paid more than their directly employed counterparts, it is time for the Government to come clean on where the problem exists.  When this happens business will start listening.
“It is unacceptable that the Australian Government continue to ignore the independent research on labour hire and look to make business even harder in this country when we need exactly the opposite.
“It’s time for the Government to make laws for all Australians, not just union bosses”.


Media contact details:
MCA – Peter Kos                              E: peter.kos@minerals.org.au                        M: 0447 452 675