• Media Release

IR “deal” an act of economic vandalism

Today, the Albanese Government has declared war against the Australian resources sector and weakened Australia’s economy.

By rushing controversial workplace changes through the Senate, the government has dramatically increased the cost of doing business in Australia, costs that will undoubtedly flow through to consumers, in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

This is what the government today wrote into law: higher costs for all.

The government’s Closing Loopholes Bill is a dramatic rewriting of workplace law that captures any business that provides workers, services or skills to another company, roping in millions of Australian workers right across the economy, and ramping up the cost of doing business, and the cost of living.

As confirmed by the National Accounts yesterday, Australia is already teetering on the edge of a recession, as economic growth grinds to a halt. This reckless Bill looms as the tipping point. It is an act of economic vandalism.

This is confirmation that the Albanese Government has no positive plan for securing Australia’s economic future. When your economic plan is centred around paying back the unions for their financial support, it is nothing but a house of cards.

Today’s deal with crossbenchers circumvents proper process and bypasses scrutiny. Pre-election notions of transparency and a better way of doing politics are now dead and buried. This deal represents a complete breach of trust with Australian business and workers.

For the resources states of Western Australia and Queensland, this Bill represents a devastating blow that will reverberate throughout their economies and put a ceiling on growth. It is a sucker punch to regional communities and our vibrant suburbs.

The minerals sector, which boasts an average wage of $151,500 and pays more tax than all other industries combined, has long warned of the consequences of the Closing Loopholes Bill.

By dramatically lifting the cost of doing business in Australia, business will simply look elsewhere, to other nations where opportunities abound and political risk is low.

It will render some mining projects and developments unviable, costing jobs and opportunity. It threatens to bring down the shutters on project extensions and expansions. And while nations clamber for access to critical minerals to build the clean energy technology required for net zero, this weakens Australia’s international competitiveness, pushing customers to other markets.

The Albanese government has never been honest on its true agenda on ‘same job, same pay’. Its election policy was to deal with what it said were the “limited circumstances” in which ‘labour hire’ is misused.

But its legislation does nothing of the sort. It has nothing to do with labour hire and is not about ‘closing loopholes’.

Instead, it allows unions to impose ‘same job, same pay’ not just on labour hire but on every business that employs its own staff and contracts to another business. The concepts of ‘same job’ and ‘same pay’ are so wide that workers doing a different job in a different workplace would be forced to be paid the same as someone else.

At all stages the government has avoided scrutiny and resorted to untruths in order to pass its legislation. It has avoided scrutiny because it knows it cannot make the case for these changes.

Last week’s government amendments in the House of Representatives did nothing to improve ‘same job, same pay’. In fact, they made it worse.

The Government’s amendments in relation to service contractors did not provide an exemption – service contractors are still treated like labour hire and will still be captured by ‘same job, same pay’ unless they can litigate their way out.

The amendments now make a bad situation even worse:

  • Unions can now rope in multiple contractors and even potential future contractors into ‘same job, same pay’ in bulk
  • Businesses must now litigate their own contractors to rope them into ‘same job, same pay’ orders; and
  • The reach of ‘same job, same pay’ has now been extended even further to capture joint venture partners.

The Minerals Council of Australia remains supportive of measures in the bill that simplify compensation for first responders, expand the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, improve protections for employees subjected to family and domestic violence, and provide clearer rules around small business insolvencies.