• Media Release

Employment goals undermined by damaging IR changes

The Albanese Government risks undermining its new employment aspirations by pursuing disruptive and destructive industrial relations changes that will only imperil employment and enterprise.

While the stated goals and objectives defined in the government’s Employment White Paper are valuable and represent a positive step forward, they sit at complete odds with the ramifications of its so-called Closing the Loopholes bill.

For employment, it is one step forward, and two steps back.

The government’s ambition to see a ‘more dynamic and more inclusive labour market’ and to ‘remove hurdles to employment’ conflict with an industrial relations bill that does nothing but increase restriction, workplace rigidity and regulation.

It appears counterintuitive to push for a more inclusive and flexible labour market with one hand, and deliver laws that impinge inclusion and flexibility with the other.

And while the MCA welcomes the inclusion of productivity growth as one of the five key objectives of the white paper, such prominence runs counter to the nature of the industrial relations changes, which will only drag productivity backwards.

Increasing input costs on business, which the Closing the Loopholes Bill does at most turns, without materially increasing output, means productivity will fall.

The government’s stated intention of targeting under-employment _ again, a valuable policy objective _ is also at risk of being compromised by its changes to the definition of casual employment.

Those changes will create more insecure work, not less. They will impact regular patterns of work, not increase the hours worked.

The MCA supports key investments outlined in the White Paper to improve access to and development of skills.

At 0.78 per cent of the minerals workforce, skilled migrants represent a small but crucial talent pipeline to address skills in critical shortage and ‘hard to fill’ roles.

The agenda for better targeted skilled migration is encouraging and the MCA welcomes the focus on an improved occupation list and establishing more responsive, clear pathways with links to permanent residency.

Apprentices and trainees currently make up 4.4 per cent of the minerals workforce. Advancing higher and degree level apprenticeships will further strengthen this talent pipeline.

As highlighted in Future Critical: Meeting the minerals investment challenge, the MCA welcomes better targeting skills needs through workforce planning and tailored responses to industry challenges.